BAKOU: German Community Integration Project Wins UN Intercultural Innovation Award |

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Three years after its creation, Give Something Back to Berlin – or GSBTB – is now well known in Europe. He was declared the winner at an award ceremony at the Baku World Forum 2016, held in the Azerbaijani capital and convened by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).

The Forum, which officially opened earlier today, brings together nearly 3,000 participants, including heads of state and government, politicians, representatives of civil society, religious leaders and young people, who will share their views and solutions under the main theme ‘Living together in inclusive societies: a challenge and a goal.’

“The refugee crisis we have experienced in recent times has in fact created a unique opportunity to build a new culture of living together,” said Annamaria Olsson, founder of GSBTB, upon receiving the Intercultural Innovation Award, created in 2011 as part of the partnership between BMW group and UNAOC.

Faced with an estimated influx of 160,000 newcomers to Berlin in recent years, including 71,000 from outside the country, GSBTB’s role as a facilitator of social integration is growing rapidly as many migrants and refugees face to stigma, exclusion and discrimination.

The refugee crisis we have experienced in recent times has in fact created a unique opportunity to build a new culture of living together.

“We bring different types of migrants together and make them learn and share,” she told the UN News Center, noting that volunteers from 60 nationalities work with them.

GSBTB operates an accessible online platform to inspire and mobilize the Berlin migrant community to create social impact and foster integration, organize events for newcomers to meet actors in their neighborhoods and build networks for the intercultural understanding, solidarity and participation.

Once a symbol of the division between East and West, Berlin may have a consciousness of seeking better ways to live together, of not remaining isolated or separated, she said. Today, 16% of Berliners are foreign citizens. Ms Olsson left Sweden for Berlin in 2008 to pursue her career as a journalist.

As the recipient of the award, which comes with financial support, she feels more responsible for helping stabilize the refugee situation in Germany. “We have over a million migrants and have a lot to do,” she said, adding that other cities in Germany and outside Germany are turning to GSBTB’s model and expertise.

The finalists were selected from nearly 1,000 applicants from 120 countries. Other winners today include:

  • Unistream (Israel), which creates social change by enabling adolescents from disadvantaged communities to create and manage their own startups;
  • Red Dot Foundation – Safecity (India), which brings together personal stories of sexual harassment to make public spaces safer for all;
  • The Coexist Initiative (Kenya), which engages men, boys and communities to challenge stereotypes and socio-cultural conditions that hinder girls’ education; and
  • Shine a Light (Brazil / USA), which teaches indigenous children to share their stories through digital arts.


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