By Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska, Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Europe Coordinator of the Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association, and member of NEVER AGAIN Association
From Poland, Sweden, France, and Spain to Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan, from the Phillipines and Bangladesh to Iraq, Bolivia and Mexico, from Ukraine to Cyprus and the UK – the first Peace Project Incubator spans four continents and at least 25 countries.
It is the first event to provide a space for Rotary Peace Fellows, Rotary members, Rotaractors, peace practitioners, and other international experts to work together to design community-based peace projects to be implemented by Rotary clubs around the world.
Ten working groups of fellows, Rotarians, and experts have been created to address ten themes. The themes and projects have been adapted to a (post-)pandemic context, but have also drawn on the content of the recent Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association Global Cyber Peace Conference.
The projects will be developed in the following areas:
New technologies and peace is the area where peace fellows are developing projects that combine innovative pedagogy and the power of new technologies to counteract cyber violent extremism among high-risk youth and facilitate their integration into the local labor market, promoting social inclusion and peace in Sweden and beyond.
Gender equality as a force for peace focuses on the involvement of women in peace processes, the consideration of their needs and priorities in the field of security and the fight against domestic violence in Macedonia and other countries.
The aim of the cultural resources for peace group is to design projects that use music, visual/performing arts and documentary films as tools for peacebuilding, early conflict prevention and awareness raising campaigns. The group develops projects in Iraq, Bangladesh and Poland, promoting culture and education as agents of recovery, reintegration, reconciliation, inclusion and diversity. Its target groups include youth, children, young women, minorities and professionals. One of its potential projects focuses on refugee women and children in Cox Bazaar. The group is supported by two distinguished experts, an Iraqi, Maestro Karim Wasfi and a Bangladeshi filmmaker and writer, Shahriar Kabir.
Peace through education is developing a range of projects aimed at contributing to a culture of peace through education. Examples include: alternative education for young people affected by ethno-religious conflicts; advocacy and education for children associated with armed forces and groups; behavioral change in young people who have grown up in violence; and education about and for the abolition of war. The projects will take place in different settings – including non-formal learning settings and in schools and universities – and benefit a range of participants, including children, youth, and adults. The projects are planned or in development for a range of different countries, including Bolivia, South Sudan, the Philippines, and the UK.
Building trust in post-conflict communities will develop projects that can assist post-conflict communities in transcending the legacy of conflict: fear, hate and insecurity. The proposed projects aim to build trust in post-conflict communities, to heal existing scars and to promote a more inclusive and collaborative way of living. The group focuses on such countries as Georgia, Congo, Ukraine as well as the Balkans.
The goal of the economic development & peace group is to develop projects that can contribute towards sustainable economic development in fragile, conflict prone and post conflict communities and to, therefore, advance positive peace. The group develops projects in Kenya, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain and Palestine.
Intergenerational cooperation for peace is the area proposed and developed by Rotaract members. The topic is particularly relevant today in the context of COVID-19 related discrimination against various groups.
Healthcare as an agent for peace proposes two projects in India and Burundi that deal with the issues of health, equality and well-being. While their overall theme focuses on women’s health, the projects will also include aspects of trauma healing and peace.
Refugees/migration and peace focuses on promoting the dignity of refugees and migrants in host communities by harnessing the power of art, food and music in Cyprus and Ireland. One of their projects proposes a thematic, interdisciplinary artist-in residence program for young visual artists. It affirms the central role of artists in society
Peace and climate change focuses on water resource management, education and outreach, early warning and the empowerment of youth and women. Climate change is a broad, cross-cutting issue, so group’s projects ideas are anchored in relevant thematic areas reflecting expertise of its members. The link between climate change, conflict and competition for natural resources is particularly relevant for those living in poverty, where resource scarcity often leads to conflict and forced migration. Preventative measures can help communities reduce vulnerability and anticipate conflict.The group also focuses on access to water and water information with the aim of identifying links with the urgent problem of access to clean water in the context of the global COVID -19 pandemic. The group develops at least five projects in two continents, Africa and Europe.
All sessions will be conducted as highly interactive breakout sessions and joint discussions. Peace Fellows, Rotary members and peace practitioners are invited to join the sessions and contribute their ideas to the design of the project proposals. The final project proposals will be presented on 2 November, 2020 during the Peace Project Incubator event, which coincides with Geneva Peace Week.