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Imagine...all the people living life in peace

Updated: Jul 27

From Poland, Sweden and Spain to Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan, from the Phillipines and Bangladesh to Iraq to Bolivia and Mexico, from Ukraine to Cyprus and the UK - the first Rotarian Peace Project Incubator spans four continents and at least 25 countries.


It is the first event ever to provide a space for Rotary Peace Fellows, Rotarians, peace practitioners, and other international experts to work together to design community-needed peace projects to be implemented by Rotary clubs around the world.


The idea originated from the Swiss/Liechtenstein chapter of the Rotarian Action Group for Peace and was enthusiastically supported by European fellows, and more globally. It will be the first unifying event for the European chapter of the newly-established Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association. This is an illustration of outstanding cooperation between Rotary Peace Fellows and Rotarians, coordinated by Walter Gyger, the President, and Sibylle Rupprecht, the Secretary General of the Swiss/Liechtenstein Rotarian Action Group for Peace. The event was launched as a regional initiative but gained worldwide support.


Ten working groups of fellows, Rotarians, and experts have been created to address ten themes identified by the organizers. The themes and projects have been adapted to the (post-)pandemic context, but have also drawn on the content of the recent Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association Global Cyber Peace Conference which was initiated by a colleague from Mediators Beyond Borders International and a peace fellow, Scott Martin , and organized by all of us earlier this year (the conference in our Zone of Africa/Europe/Middle East was coordinated by Phill Gittins, the Education Director, World Beyond War and myself).


The projects will be developed in the following areas:


Cultural Resources for Peace. The aim of this 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.


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, thus 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.


Peace Through Education Group 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.


Refugees/Migration and Peace group focuses on promoting the dignity of refugees/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 as social change agents and young leaders willing to engage in human rights and peace-building.


The group 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.


Peace and climate change group 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.


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.


Each group will propose a series of collaborative working sessions online to design the project proposals. The sessions will provide time, space and context to be engaged more collaboratively and directly as important actors in developing community-needed projects all around the world. All sessions will be conducted in a highly interactive way in breakout sessions and joint discussions. European and other fellows, Rotarians and peace practitioners are invited to join the sessions and and contribute their ideas to the design of the project proposals. The finalised project proposals will be presented by the coordination teams on the 2nd November, during the Rotarian Peace Project Incubator event, which coincides with Geneva Peace Week.


Please register for the Rotarian Peace Project Incubator on www.rppi.ch. We look forward to working with you to make the world a better place.


Natalia Sineaeva-Pankowska, Rotary Peace Fellow at Chulalongkorn University, Europe Coordinator of the Rotary Peace Fellows Alumni Association, a member of the NEVER AGAIN Association, Poland. She is a member of a coordinating team of the Cultural Resources for Peace group.


Photo: Rotary Peace Fellows. Class 25, Rotary Peace Center, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

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