Europe leads the way in restorative cities

Get to know the EFRJ “Restorative Cities” Working Group

What… actually … does the concept of “Restorative Cities” mean? To get some clarity on this, I visited the Website of the European Forum For Restorative Justice (EFRJ), where I stumbled across the following explanation:

“Restorative Cities aim at disseminating restorative values (inclusion, participation, respect, responsibility, solidarity, truth seeking, etc.) in different settings where conflict may occur, such as families, schools, neighbourhoods, sport organisations, work places, intercultural communities, etc. The final goal is to strengthen relationships, encourage active citizenship and look at conflict as an opportunity for change, rather than a threat.”

Alright, basically a broad scale, (or better city-wide) implementation of restorative values that encompasses all social institutions and cultures. Make sense? If not quite yet, this year’s RJ WORLD 2020 has tons of eloquent speakers, researchers and change-leaders from all over the world to flesh out the idea of Restorative Cities for us!

One of them is Chris Straker from the UK. He is a national and international conference speaker who worked with cities on strategic, city-wide, implementation of restorative values. He is also part of the international Working Group on Restorative Cities hosted by the EFRJ. The agenda of this working group is to “bring together different local experiences which have the intention of creating a cultural change with citizens who are empowered in their conflict resolution skills and decision making.”

In his workshop, Chris will inquire further into the meaning of living together restoratively. Part of his talk focusses on debunking myths behind the concept of restorative cities. To do so, he uses the UK as a backdrop for participants to explore their own ideas on what a restorative city means. Further, he will also introduce some models for restorative cities but he is particularly interested in using the opportunity of the conference to create dialogue.

Sounds brilliant, doesn’t it? Especially, since Restorative Practice only unfolds its full potential in conversation. The belief in the transformative potential of dialogue is perhaps the connecting element between all our speakers of this year’s RJ WORLD 2020 conference.

Three other presenters who are eager to structure their joint presentation according to this motto are Prof. Grazia Mannozzi & Gian Luigi Lepri & Chiara Perini from Italy. Grazia was the first chair of the EFRJ Working Group on Restorative Cities and Gian Luigi is the current chair of the same group. Their presentation will open a dialogic space in which both former and current chair have a conversation.

In this talk, they will firstly discuss the “conceptual transition from restorative justice theory to the elaboration of the idea of restorative cities” to give insight into potential gap between theory and practice. Secondly, challenges around restorative cities will be explored whilst shedding light on the reasons why this has become a pivotal theme in the action of the EFRJ. Lastly, the speakers will analyse the idea behind restorative cities with regards to their popularity concretely in Europe. But that’s still not all this workshop holds for us: After that, the speakers will apply a “SWOT Analysis” to current restorative cities- projects. This will serve to evaluate the project’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Wow, what a holistic talk this will be…

And hey, why not have a look at our other post on the topic Restorative Cities:
From Restorative Communities, to Restorative Cities to Restorative States

Dr Sandra Pavelka: beyond retributive systems in the US.

USA / Legal and judicial

Biography: Dr. Sandra Pavelka serves as Professor and Founding Director of the Institute for Youth and Justice Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University. Dr. Pavelka previously served as Project Administrator of the Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Project, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US DOJ. She provides consultation, training and technical assistance with legislators, justice system and educational stakeholders, and victim advocates in the development and implementation of restorative justice principles, practices, legislation, policies and evaluation.

Topic: Lawmakers and justice system administrators seek to clarify the aims of justice management and policy, while exploring possibilities for the future of the justice system beyond individual treatment/rehabilitation and retributive justice. Legislators and justice system administrators have reformed their juvenile justice agenda from punitive actions to a means that provides responses to crime and wrongful occurrences by developing and implementing restorative legislation and policies. Restorative justice seeks to balance the needs of the victim, offender and community by repairing the harm caused by wrongdoing and delinquent acts. Dr. Pavelka will present her research that found a majority of states in the US have incorporated restorative justice in statute or code that include general provisions and intent, practices, funding and evaluation. The state of Colorado, which notably implements systemic reform by integrating restorative justice principles and practices in law and policy, is examined as a model state.

A framework for environmental restorative justice – Dr Brunilda Pali

Belgium / Environmental justice

Dr. Brunilda Pali is a senior researcher at the Leuven Institute of Criminology, KU Leuven, Belgium. She is currently also Secretary of the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ). Her areas of interest are gender, critical social theory, restorative justice, cultural and critical criminology, environmental justice, and arts. Her research website is

Topic: Environmental restorative justice: A justice framework for preventing, stopping and repairing environmental harms

The challenges of developing meaningful responses to environmental harm that stop damaging the earth and its inhabitants (human and other-than human), that repair and heal the devastating harms already made, and build different systems that respect ecosystems and the rights of future generations, have never been greater. Restorative justice presents a great opportunity to bridge the ineffectiveness of existing environmental responses and the pressing need to stop existing harmful practices, repair harms made and prevent future environmental damage. In this presentation, I focus on the theoretical and conceptual alignments that are necessary to make in setting the agenda of environmental restorative justice. In addition, I illustrate with some past, present, or emerging worldwide initiatives on the field the possibilities and limits of the restorative engagement with environmental justice issues.

Prof. Jennifer Llewelyn heads new international RJ Lab

Canada / Academic

Bio: Professor of Law, Yogis and Keddy Chair in Human Rights Law and Donald R. Sobey Chair in Restorative Justice at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia Canada. Director of the Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab and the International Learning Community for a Restorative Approach. Research and work focused in areas of relational theory and a restorative approach, human rights, peacebuilding, truth and reconciliation, justice transformation and restorative communities.

Topic: The vision, approach, and plans for the newly established Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab (RRIELab) at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. The reference to “Lab” signals the goal and commitment to hold time, space, and build the connections needed to create, share and mobilize knowledge for action. The presentation will explore the potential and implications of this “change lab” grounded in the principles of a restorative approach for the growth and development of the field. The RRIELab will foster and support connections among researchers, practitioners, policymakers and educators locally, nationally and internationally to translate knowledge into action and to learn from innovation and action. The RRIELab will host and be supported by the Restorative Approach International Learning Community (ILC) – an international collaboration among those supporting the vision and implementation of restorative communities, cities and states.