Sedat Arif is chair of EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum and deputy mayor of Malmo. In advance of our 'social innovation lab' taking place this week in Glasgow, we decided to pose a few questions to him.
1. What is your current job title and what experience do you bring to the role? What is your favourite thing about your job?
Deputy Mayor for labour market and social services. I previously worked both in a factory and as a mechanic. I have studied political science at Malmo and Lund University. I have also previously worked as an ombudsman, responsible for organising members within the Social Democratic party in Malmo and as a union recruiter/educator in the Trade Union.
The variation of it, meeting new people that always contribute with interesting views regarding different societal challenges and who all strive to make Malmo into a better city. Each day I learn to appreciate and discover new things about Malmo. At the same time, it feels rewarding to be able to contribute in whatever way I can to tackle the social issues that the city is facing.
2. What would you tell a first-time visitor to your city?
Malmo, which is Sweden’s third largest city with its 340,000 inhabitants, is often referred to as a young, modern, and global city. I would tell visitors about the fact that 182 different nationalities live in our city and that half of our population is under the age of 35. Our city’s diversity is well reflected in the enormous food variation that our city has to offer, ranging from falafel carts to Nordic cuisine, all of which I would encourage them to sample during their visit!
3. As chair of EUROCITIES Social Affairs Forum what do you hear most from peers or consider a top challenge in this area?
Two areas that many come back to as the base for all else are housing and employment.
Many cities are facing the difficulty of trying to match their citizens education and skill-sets with that which is in demand on the labour market. We need to help our citizens in being able to get the jobs that are available.
When it comes to the issue of housing, the challenge is finding new solutions that are qualitative and yet low-cost, so that all citizens can afford housing.
4. Ahead of the European election, what role is there for cities to contribute and lead in Europe?
Cities play an important role when it comes to maintaining open societies. This is one of the largest challenges that Europe is facing at the moment; forces that wish to divide the different member states and weaken the Union. Here cities have to lead the way and show that we want to create vibrant cities that are part of a global world, not ones that are isolated.
5. What is your vision of the future city (e.g. in 2050)?
A city in which we have come much further when it comes to social sustainability. Cities need to create opportunities for their citizens to live high-quality lives. We need to plan well for public services in order to create people-friendly cities.
Find out more about our social innovation lab here.