Engaging the diversity of our city population in our sustainability and SDG community - how to be more inclusive?
Over the course of the last 2 years, the KIT building has been in a transformation process from a museum and international development research institute largely subsidised and with a significant part of the building closed off to the public, into a more open building with nearly 50 organisations (in addition to the original research institute) who are all committed to sustainability (through research, impact investing, platform development, ecosystem restoration, urban innovation, entrepreneurship development and more). In 2017 the KIT building and community hosted an Impact Summit on the 2 year anniversary of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and came together branding this community as ‘SDG House’ with a shared purpose: We are an action-oriented and partnership-driven community growing solutions for the global goals. Many organisations who are part of this community work with diverse stakeholders across different types of institutions both in the Netherlands and abroad (largely the global south) and we are seeing increased activity within the building that also invites in more people from the general public.
However, we notice that those who engage and feel attracted to the SDG agenda and to the activities that our inhabitant organisations offer are typically white, educated, middle-class while we are in a city that is much more diverse! How can we invite diversity in? Given the nature of the topics we address (inclusion, sustainable cities, societal betterment, etc) and given that we are situated at the edge of a predominantly new immigrant neighbourhood, how can we invite more visible minorities and newcomers to become a part of our community?
We are therefore looking for a solution that enables us (and perhaps other such institutions and multi-stakeholder space in our city and in Europe) to authentically engage people who represent the diverse demographic of our city, and to be a part of a new developmental agenda that is more inclusive.
Amsterdam has a population of 800,000 people, and while it has always been international in its population and outlook it has seen an increase in new immigrant populations. Located in Amsterdam East, our building (KIT) is on the edge of a very creative neighbourhood: Oost which is comprised of a diverse population
The target group to engage would be visible minorities and newcomers. We selected this group because we have been noticing that as we grow in our commitment to inclusion and sustainable societal development, and as we grow as a community dedicated to that agenda, we are not growing in terms of diversity. The link is currently weak; there is a perception our institute is not accessible. And while we are located nearby a diverse neighbourhood, many of the people inside the building are busy working and perhaps living elsewhere so there is little time and attention to make personal content with new others outside the building or different to what people are used to.
KIT the research institute and the wider SDG House community of tenants in the KIT building consider inclusion as an integral part of its vision, plan and strategy. KIT has an intercultural training arm that is well equipped to give intercultural training as it often does for Dutch organisations going abroad. We are fairly new in growing into a model of co-tenancy an community, so no we have not tried this before other than bring up the topic through informal conversation.
The champions of this challenge are core management: Mark Schneiders (CEO) has worked a good part of his life abroad in emerging economies and knows first-hand the challenges of doing business across different cultures.Louis van der Berghe (COO) is in this conversation daily as he manages the tenants and has been working to engage diverse others. Maarten van den Berg (Head of Marketing Communications) has experience living in diverse cultures and working on societal change and brings communications expertise.
We are looking for a solution that helps us:
● Be more inclusive: regularly invite more diverse segments of our city population to join our work and community
● Be more connected to our local neighbourhood
● We commit to work closely with the selected solution provider and node.
● We will share our expertise on intercultural learning (a consultation for the solution provider with one of our intercultural experts)
● We will see that the innovator has access to relevant entrepreneurial support so that a solution is not a one-off but longer term sustainable - and possible of value to other organisations
● We will refer the solution provider (if successful with us) to other reputable organisations in our city/country/network who struggle with the same challenge
● We will profile the story of collaboration with the solution provider through our external channels
No ethical issues are foreseen.