On 16th and 17th of March, a delegation from the Council of Europe formed by Claudia Luciani (Director of Democratic Governance, Culture and Diversity), Irena Guidikova (responsible for Intercultural Cities program) and Dani Torres (Expert Council and director of the RECI) paid a visit to the city of Bilbao to better understand their intercultural policies and to offer recommendations. These visits are part of the methodology of the Intercultural Cities program, which aims to present and discuss the intercultural approach of the ICC program with municipal officers and representatives of civil society in each of the cities of the network.
The visit began with an intense session in the building of the Alhondiga of Bilbao -a former wine warehouse converted into a cultural center- which involved the Mayor of the city, the councilor responsible for issues related to diversity, and an advisor to the Ministry of Employment and Social Policy of the Basque government. During the meeting, various experiences and projects were presented, some of them related to the field of education, women’s empowerment and partnership by immigrants, plus some studies by the University on the perceptions of the Basques respect diversity.
During the following 36 hours, the delegation of the Council of Europe had the opportunity to see first hand some neighborhoods of the city and to visit various cultural and educational facilities, as well as associative spaces. In this part of the visit, the representatives of the European institution could meet first hand the people and the projects that, nowadays, are playing a key role in the social cohesion, harmony and dynamism of Bilbao.
The delegation left the city -after a visit described as “intense and inspiring”- with a very positive feeling and a richer vision Bilbao’s reality. In the coming weeks, a report explaining challenges and policies of the city, strenghts and weaknesses, along with specific recommendations and conclusions, will be published.