International Metropolis Conference 2009
September 14th to 18th, Copenhagen, Denmark
Conference Theme 2009: Migration and Mobility: National Responses to Cultural Diversity
The main topics of this year's conference - migration, mobility and national responses to cultural diversity - are serious challenges for all countries, and Denmark is no exception. The current economic crisis, and the rise in unemployment, have lead many countries to adjust their migration policies. For many countries, the challenge is to match inflows with labour demand. However, one point on which I think we all agree, is that the long-term challenge remains important beyond any temporary shocks. The main question in this context is, therefore: How we effectively and dynamic meet future labour-market demand while at the same time integrating immigrants and their children successfully? In Denmark we have launched a series of initiatives in the past years to improve the access to Denmark for foreign workers as well as to make Denmark a more attractive country to migrate to for skilled workers. In addition, Denmark also receives a number of refugees and persons through family reunification each year, and these groups - newcomers as well as people who have been in the country for a span of years need our attention too. We have realised that integration cannot be taken for granted even among second- or third-generation immigrants from non-Western countries.
Employment has long been seen as the key to successful integration. Although undeniably important, in the past years there has been a growing realisation that employment is not always a comprehensive indicator of integration, especially with regar_ds to certain groups of immigrants with non-Western backgrounds. This has led to an increasing focus on the necessity of a sense of belonging and civic citizenship, that is, on the support of democratic institutions and values like gender equality and tolerance of ethnic, sexual and religious minorities.
Questions of multiculturalism and diversity give rise to lively and important debates in many countries and in many spheres oflife. Diversity is desirable and necessary for the development of secure ethnic identities and positive self-feelings, and it is a vital resource for any modern society. But occasionally it also challenges social cohesion.
The programme of this conference includes a number of keynote addresses on very important aspects of the topics of "Migration, mobility: national responses to cultural diversity". The workshop sessions will provide us with the opportunity to share knowledge, expertise and experience from around the world, be it from those who tackle these problems as politicians, as researchers or as field workers. The more we know about one another's past experiences, the better we will all be able to handle these complex issues in the future.