Managing Diversity (Integration-Quality of Life)

During the 20th century, urban populations became more internationally mobile and diverse. In many cities, migration has created a population which is diverse and trending towards increasing levels of diversity, fuelled by the skilled and unskilled, the rich and poor. We argue that, for open cities, the agenda around diversity, integration and inclusion is more than a moral obligation; it is a business and economic imperative.

With a smart and innovative approach which enhances and builds on what is already in place, cultural diversity can be leveraged to such an extent that openness to international population and migrants becomes a cornerstone of a city’s competitiveness. Given the increasingly mobile and competitive nature of the modern world, cities that most effectively manage their diversity could be best placed to benefit in the future.

A 2009 study by the Urban Land Institute ‘City Success: what do the global indices tell us?’ looked at the ingredients of city success over the ten year timescale and the 100 year timescale. Diversity and international openness, it concluded, are cornerstones of longer-term success. The same report shows how many of the ingredients of city success, both short and longer term, are supported by population diversity. You can see further details on Managing Diversity in OPENCities.

As with many assets which can contribute to urban success, if diversity is not well managed, it can become challenging by producing segregation and tension, violence or xenophobia. This makes it imperative that diversity is managed to the very best of standards. It is not an easy task and requires a coordinated approach at both local and global levels. We try, through this monitor and examples, to provide you with relatively easy examples which could help you manage your diverse populations.

It is down to each city to decide which initiatives will work best we believe that, whilst heterogeneity is to be encouraged and celebrated and homogeneity avoided, trends towards integration and inclusion are considered preferable. They are the cornerstones to managing diversity because productive, healthy cities are those where large proportions of the city's population groups participate in and contribute collaboratively and enthusiastically to city life. These are the fundamentals of successful open cities which score highly on socio-economic indicators.

Investigate your city diversity management profile, compare your city with other cities and decide which are your strengths and weaknesses. Then have a look at the case studies and download policy recommendations for successful diversity management and decide what actions are most relevant to your city.

OPENCities is a BAK project in partnership with cities around the world.