In a fast-moving, increasingly complex and polarised world, it can be difficult to find common grounds amongst cities’ residents and different communities on a local level. To develop a stronger identification and sense of belonging with a city or community for all individuals, it can help to create a ‘collective’ or ‘shared’ identity. A recent RAN paper focuses on the outcomes of the joint RAN FC&S meeting (with RAN LOCAL, RAN C&N and RAN Y&E) on this topic. During the meeting, participants discussed how the building of a shared identity can be integrated into a local campaign (by practitioners, communities, authorities, etc.) or city strategy (by local authorities) and contribute to building resilience and the prevention of polarisation.

All outcomes of this meeting are captured in a list of dos and don’ts for people who want to create city strategy and/or incorporate a campaign that contributes to a shared identity. These are the key points to consider:

Possible elements of a shared identity, such as the celebration of common local traditions, shared values, inclusive local events, shared urban spaces or a shared history.

It is necessary to find the right balance between a bottom-up and a top-down approach.

Identity is constantly evolving, which makes a campaign or strategy a long-term process.

Pay attention to language and rhetoric in your campaign, i.e. think of the importance of inclusive communication, tailoring your language to your target audience, and the use of storytelling with real stories and testimonials.

A representation of a diversity of groups and people (ethnic, gender, age and community groups) in your city and in your team is important to make your strategy work.

This RAN conclusion paper is meant for all individuals who want to create or strengthen a shared identity with their strategy or campaign, such as local coordinators, community representatives, communication experts and teachers. For more inspiration, a list of existing examples is available on the last page of the publication.