5th European Policy Dialogue Forum in Rotterdam
The European Policy Dialogue Forum (EPDF) brings religious actors, policymakers and other experts together to establish and strengthen channels of communication, listen to one another’s concerns, identify opportunities to support and cooperate, and to develop recommendations. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue are central to addressing Europe’s current divisions and strengthening social cohesion by promoting equal rights, human dignity and respect for diversity
Addressing social inclusion and the role of young people
Young people have been disproportionately affected by intersecting crises due to conflicts, climate shocks and economic instability. The growing marginalisation and the pervasive feeling of being “left behind” fuel anger and resentment that exacerbate social inclusion challenges. The rising of hate speech, in the form of discriminatory and xenophobic language or intolerant and hateful expressions, represents both the symptom and the cause of deep societal divisions that hamper mutual recognition and respect across different social, ethnic, cultural and religious groups.
As the world becomes more and more urban, cities have a greater potential to ensure that community members are actively engaged in solutions. Addressing social inclusion challenges in increasingly diverse local communities calls for the growing involvement of religious leaders and cultural actors. Harnessing common values within different cultural, religious and humanist heritages is critical towards building a genuine culture of belonging.
Based on the past four editions, the 5th European Policy Dialogue Forum (EPDF) will explore ways to build a genuine culture of belonging so to address ethnic, religious and social inequities in European cities. By pooling the EPDF research and policy papers, the intention is to leverage the untapped potential of broad-based partnerships and mobilise collaborative efforts of a wide variety of secular and religious stakeholders, including youth groups, towards cohesive and inclusive cities.
Under the motto “Inspire, Connect, Engage”, around 130 participants from Europe – one third between 18 and 30 years of age – are expected to gather in Rotterdam on 13-15 November: religious leaders and faith-based actors, local and national policymakers, civil society and international organizations including Network for Dialogue members as well as migrant and refugee-led organizations active in the field of social inclusion, migrant and refugee integration, youth and urban policies, including countering discrimination and hate speech.
With the purpose to build bridges between cultures and religions, age segments and social groups, since 2019 the European Policy Dialogue Forum (EPDF) has offered a space to build trust, foster unexpected exchanges and networking, expanding visions and opportunities for action.
The 5th EPDF has three main objectives:
Provide a space for mutual learning, where young people’s ideas, concerns and recommendations are voiced, including those expressed by young refugees and migrants;
Share meaningful experiences that can inspire policies and actions for enhanced social inclusion of young people, particularly in urban areas;
Foster dialogue and partnerships between different stakeholders, in particular secular and religious leaders, institutions and actors, as well as youth groups.
The EPDF is organized by the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) in partnership with the European Council of Religious Leaders/Religions for Peace Europe (ECRL/RfP) and the KAICIID-supported Network for Dialogue. The Forum enjoys the support of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
The thematic areas
Pooling the insights provided by three input papers as well as the outcomes of an EPDF Expert Meeting organized in Lisbon on 28–29 March 2023, the Forum will offer opportunities to delve into the following three thematic areas:
Bridging divisions in European cities: Often perpetrated in the name of or because of religion, hate speech is grounded on rising inequalities and increasing marginalisation of fragile segments of the city population, particularly cultural, ethnic and religious minorities. The Forum will explore the untapped potential of interreligious and intercultural dialogue as key tools to prevent and mitigate the pernicious effect of hate speech offline and online;
Cities fostering belonging: In urban spaces, refugees, migrants and other vulnerable groups are progressively pushed to the periphery. Young migrants and refugees experience further exclusion within their own communities, from other migrant and refugee groups as well as from host communities. The Forum will discuss how inter-faith and intercultural dialogue can mobilise collaborative efforts towards an urban environment where everyone can access suitable opportunities for socioeconomic, cultural and religious participation;
Leadership in action: While young people remain passionate and motivated about issues that matter to them, they tend to experience growing marginalisation in decision-making. The Forum will look into approaches that, while fostering the active citizenship and participation of young people, can enhance youth’s trust in secular and religious leadership – the very leadership responsible for managing change and social cohesion.