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Sustainable integration in the Nordic countries in the face of Covid-19: What are we learning?

03.11.20 | Evenemang
Online session
How are the national, civil society and local actors addressing the challenges and opportunities of immigrant integration in the Nordic countries?


03 - 06.11.2020

2020 has brought collective challenges in the form of Covid-19 and its economic and social aftermath, revealing both challenges and opportunities in the field of integration. How can we continue to work for robust integration of immigrants and refugees in various spheres of society? Have the novel challenges of 2020 brought new knowledge that can enrich our approaches in the future?

Session 1/ Outreach to immigrant communities: Building trust and capacity for handling collective challenges

Tuesday, November 3, 2020, 13:00-15:00 CET

In 2020, it has become clear that addressing society’s most important collective challenges requires the engagement and trust between all communities. What challenges do the Nordic countries face in terms of outreach to immigrant-background communities, and how can they best ensure the building of trust and capacity for addressing such challenges together?

This session brings together perspectives from representatives from Nordic national agencies, civil society organisations and local actors to exchange experiences, outlooks and ideas.

13:00 – 13:05    Welcome  - facilitator Mary Gestin (Head of Communications, Nordic Council of Ministers)

13:05 – 13:40    Perspectives from national agencies

  • Nina Timm Tornbjerg (Head of Section, the Danish Health Authority)
  • Thor Indseth (Dept. Director, Research and Analysis Cluster, Health Service, Norwegian Institute of Public Health)
  • Fredrik Lundvall (CEO & Project Manager Norrland, IndvandrarIndex, Sweden)

13:40 – 13:55    Panel discussion with the representatives of national agencies

13:55– 14:20     Perspectives from civil society organisations

  • Asim Latif (Director, Baba, Denmark)
  • Representative of the Finnish Somali League, Finland
  • Ayan Abdulle (Chairperson, Arewelo, Bergen, Norway)

14:20 – 14:40 Perspectives from municipal leaders and administrators

  • Sabine Leskopf (City Councillor, Rejkjavik, and Chair, Rejkjavik Intercultural Committee – Iceland)
  • Kathra Saba (Strategy Developer, Dept. for Local Society and Empowerment, The old district, Oslo – Norway)

14:40 – 15:00   Panel discussion with the civil society and municipal representatives

SESSION 2 / Segregation: Inequality in housing and geographically concentrated communities

Wednesday, November 4, 2020, 13:00-15:00 CET

Inequality and segregation in housing is both an effect and a cause of broader educational, economic and social differences, often especially affecting people of immigrant background. In 2020, the challenge of containing outbreaks in some local areas revealed how health outcomes can interact with geographic concentration of minority communities in lower-income housing areas. What key challenges in terms of segregation are the Nordic countries currently facing, and how can these be addressed? Have the events of 2020 revealed new aspects to problems, or offered new solutions? This session will bring together Nordic representatives of national agencies, civil society organisations, social entrepreneurs and several Nordic researchers to address these questions and exchange ideas.

13:00 – 13:05   Welcome – facilitator Jeppe Albers (Director, Nordic Safe Cities)

13:05 – 13:45   National and civil society perspectives

  • Jakob Halkjær Kristensen (Head of Section, Danish Ministry of Transport and Housing)
  • Rikke Lønne (Director of Strategic Development, BL – Danish Social Housing)
  • Martin Hofverberg (Chief Economist, Swedish Tenant Association)
  • Nikoline Olsen (Program leader, Playmaker (DK) and Nordic programs, GAME)

13:45 – 14:00  Panel discussion with Jakob Halkjær Kristensen, Rikke Lønne, Martin Hofverberg and Nikoline Olsen

14:00 – 14:40   Perspectives from research

  • Housing segregation and policy responses in the Nordic region – Sandra Oliveira e Costa (Research Fellow, Nordregio)
  • Crowding and the daily lives of families during the covid-19-pandemic in a super diverse urban setting: Lessons from Oslo – Ingar Brattbakk (Researcher, Centre for Welfare and Labour Research, Oslomet)
  • Ethnicity and covid-19 in a Danish context: whom and why? – Marie Louise Nørredam (Professor MSO, Danish Research Centre for Migration, Ethnicity and Health, University of Copenhagen)

14:40 – 15:00  Panel discussion with the researchers

SESSION 3 / Integration in the labour market

Thursday, November 5, 2020, 13:00-15:00 CET

How can we ensure a fitting match between education and job-training of immigrants and refugees, and the future needs of the labor market? How can the public sector, the labor market and civil society join efforts in strengthening sustainable integration? Have the challenges of 2020 brought new perspectives to potential weaknesses and strengths of our strategies? This session will bring perspectives from Nordic researchers, representatives of national agencies, civil society organisations and municipal or other local actors together to explore key challenges and approaches to supporting more robust labour-market integration for immigrants and refugees.

13.00 – 13.05    Welcome – facilitator Safaa Mohamed Ali (Project and research consultant, Væksthuset, Denmark)

13.05 – 13:35    Perspectives from research

  • ‘We have kept the wheels in motion’: Local integration work among refugees during the outbreak of the coronavirus – Hanne Kavli (Research leader, Fafo)
  • Immigrant unemployment during the Covid-19-crisis – Oddbjørn Raaum (Senior research follow, Frisch Centre for Economic Research)         

13:20-13:45       Perspectives from national agencies

  • Antti Kaihovaara (Senior Specialist, Labour Migration and Integration Unit, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland)
  • Guðlaug Pétursdóttir (Head of Counseling and Recruitment, Icelandic Directorate of Labour)
  • Astrid Vind Løntoft (Senior Consultant, Dept. for Danish and Employment, Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration)

13:45 – 14:05    Panel discussion with researchers and the representatives of national agencies

14:05– 14:45    Perspectives from municipal and civil society actors

  • Claus Christian Bak (Functional Manager, Silkeborg municipal, Denmark)
  • Marisel Soto Godoy (Head of integration activities, Integration Center Monika, Finland)
  • Thit Aaris-Høeg (Head of the Foundation for Social Responsibility, Bydelsmødrene, Denmark)

14:45 – 15:00   Panel discussion with municipal and civil society actors

PLENARY SESSION / Sustainable integration in the Nordic countries in the time of Covid-19

Friday, November 6, 2020 – 12:30-15:00 CET

The challenges and opportunities of 2020 have revealed new perspectives on both challenges and promising approaches relating to communication and trust, segregation and the labour market, as they relate to the experience and inclusion of immigrants and refugees. Moving beyond the questions and insights raised in the three thematic sessions, the plenary session brings together researchers and Nordic political leaders to reflect on what we have learned, what questions we still need to answer, and what they see as the most urgent challenges and solutions.

12:30 – 12:35  Welcome – facilitator Emily Cochran Bech (Senior consultant, Rambøll)

12:35 – 13:35  Perspectives from Nordic research

  • 12:35 – 12:50  Labour-market integration during a pandemic – what challenges and opportunities could we derive from existing research? – Vilde Hernes (Researcher, Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR), Oslomet)
  • 12:50 – 13:05   Housing inequality and Covid-19. How inequalities in housing affects the pandemic and how the pandemic aggravate housing inequality – Martin Grander (Researcher, Malmö University)
  • 13:05 – 13:20  ‘I would prefer not to die in a language I don’t speak.’: Experience with transcultural health communication from the Migrant Health Clinic, Odense University Hospital – Morten Sodemann (Clinical Professor, University of Southern Denmark)

13:20 – 13:40    Panel discussion with Vilde Hernes, Martin Grander and Morten Sodemann

13:40 – 14:00    Pause

14:00 – 14:40   Perspectives from Nordic political leaders

  • Sanna Vesikansa (Deputy mayor, Social Services and Health Care, Helsinki, Finland)
  • Kristian Würtz (Vice mayor, Social Services and Employment, Aarhus, Denmark)
  • Rina Mariann Hansen (Vice Mayor of Department of Employment, Integration and Social services, Oslo, Norway)

14:40– 14:55    Panel discussion with Sanna Vesikansa, Kristian Würtz and Rina Mariann Hansen

14:55 – 15:00   Concluding remarks (Nordic Council of Ministers)