ICP Re-Imagines Peacebuilding at Geneva Peace Week 2022

Reflections on, and a summation of, a week dedicated to international peacebuilding. This annual Geneva-based event brings together global leaders to promote peace across contexts and disciplines through the sharing of knowledge and practice. This year, Geneva Peace Week took place 31 October, 2022 through 4 November, 2022 in a hybrid format.


Geneva Peace Week (GPW) is a leading annual forum in the international peacebuilding calendar. During GPW, Geneva-based organizations and their international partners come together to share knowledge and practice on a diverse range of topics relating to the promotion of peace across contexts and disciplines. Geneva Peace Week 2022 (GPW22) took place both in-person and online from 31 October to 4 November.

GPW brings together citizens, experts, thinkers, and doers to share experiences, build knowledge and expertise, and empower one another to work collectively towards peace. The opening and closing ceremonies of GPW are always open to the general public and welcome all who are located in Geneva. Importantly, GPW facilitates in-person meetings for professionals who are able to attend on-site.

The overarching theme of GPW22 was ‘Peace is Possible’. GPW22 continued to build upon the thematic discussions that emerged from GPW21, while creating spaces to discuss and contextualize recent local and geopolitical developments and how they impacted the efforts of those working towards a more peaceful and just world. The thematic tracks for GPW22 were created to both address and build upon discussions from GPW21.

GPW22 was organized into four thematic tracks:

  1. Rights, inequalities and peace: Navigating tensions, finding opportunities
  2. Moving beyond securitization: Risk management and new horizons for peacebuilding
  3. Digital peace: The power and limits of innovation in peacebuilding
  4. Cultivating cooperation: Environmental challenges and opportunities for peace in a new age of insecurity

ICP took three key messages with us to GPW22:

  • Information: Peace is possible when solutions are action oriented, collaborative, and ground-up.
  • Collaboration: Positive peace requires cross-cutting commitments for progress to prioritize frontline communities.
  • Policy Transformation: Environmental security must invest in conflict transformation and peacebuilding.

Advancing Peace Through Climate Resilience: An Action Planning Workshop to Accelerate Change Within One Year

ICP, in spirited collaboration with the NAACP, crafted an interactive workshop as a highlight of GPW22’s fourth track. Our partnership centered on the United Nations’ announcement that International Day of Peace 2022 is observed this year to End racism. Build peace. Thus, ICP’s and NAACP’s overlapping values and visions for the future make this a timely, significant, and relevant partnership. Organizationally, we bear witness to the advancement of peaceful, climate-resilient futures by channeling the inherent wisdom, power, ingenuity, and voices of the communities that we serve. This approach challenges traditional approaches to institutionalized security and highlights the inherent power of communities to build resilience for their own futures. The opportunity for mutual support and collaboration on these projects can help them become as impactful and far-reaching as possible.

More specifically, Kealoha, Elsa, Zelda, and Zephanii created a futures imaginarium that guided attendees through pre-work, a 75-minute in-session, and follow-ups for activation based on the group learning and contributions. Attendees hailed from Geneva, Rome, Venezuela, the Netherlands, the U.K., Hong Kong, Canada, Egypt, and the United States, among others. U.S. participants represented various states such as Colorado, Virginia, New York, California, and Washington, DC.

A central tenet of the Institute for Climate and Peace is to create culturally-responsive, peace-based solutions that progress climate justice and help to create better futures. In accordance with this tenet, we designed five learning objectives for this workshop:

  1. Explore policy, practices, and programs in the context of peace and environmental well-being;
  2. Participate in a discussion on what the nexus of climate and peace looks like in localized contexts throughout the world;
  3. Utilize both imagery and group thinking as interactive tools to bring together successful collaborative ideas to address shared challenges with global participants;
  4. Create action that ignites equality for women, centers front-line communities, and elevates Indigenous wisdom;
  5. Weave a vision of how peace is integral to climate-resilient futures.

Key Takeaways from Our Imaginarium:

  1. The overwhelming majority of workshop participants (78%) felt that, “Our future is bleak but that they have the ability to influence things.” In other words, attendees expressed that crises — like climate change — are pushing the world in a negative direction, but that future outcomes are not fixed and can still be altered. Community partnerships stood out as a key mechanism for ensuring our futures are positive and climate resilient.
  2. Communities have power and are capable of being sources of their own climate and peace solutions. However, resilience requires the political will to ensure appropriate rights and resources for those solutions to be amplified for greatest impact.
  3. When developing peaceful climate resilience, it is important to hold racism, colonialism, sexism, and capitalism accountable for the harms and inequitable power structures they create.
  4. Peacebuilding must be made more accessible and actionable to best support environmental and climate justice. This can be done through further capacity-building, education, and training for individuals in the development, conflict, and security fields.

Hope for the Future: A Youth Perspective on Peace

Elsa spoke on a youth panel featuring personal stories relating to peace and representing the thematic track, “Cultivating cooperation: Environmental challenges and opportunities for peace in a new age of insecurity.” The panel was moderated by Nadine Hakizimana (WIPO) and also featured Bjørn Ihler (Khalifa Ihler Institute), Artem Gladkykh (Essential Tech Centre), and Yasmin Beldjelti (Quaker United Nations Office).

Elsa shared the story of the Tent of Nations farm in Palestine — a community that has responded to the violence of militarization through creative, environmentally-rooted, non-violent resistance to occupation. The Tent of Nations community has responded to the question, “Is peace possible in the face of violence and injustice?” through imagination, sustainability, community education, and stubborn hope.

Building on this inspirational story, Elsa shared that youth engagement in the process of peacebuilding is not only about valuing alternative perspectives, but also about developing young leaders by connecting them with the traditions and wisdom of multi-generational communities. A “new age of insecurity” requires a new era of peacebuilding that brings everyone along. You can watch the full panel here.

During GPW, Elsa was interviewed for the GPW podcast, Geneva Peace-cast. Listen to the episode on Spotify or watch a video recording of the episode on Youtube.

Photo: (L to R) Zephanii Smith Eisenstat and Elsa Barron during ICP’s workshop at GPW22.

Cultivating cooperation: Environmental challenges and opportunities in a new age of insecurity

Kealoha spoke on a high level panel about the opportunities presented by our time of climate crisis. The panel was moderated by Guillaume Charron, Independent Diplomat’s director in Geneva. The panel also featured Ambassador (Ms.) Deike Potzel (Director-General for Conflict Prevention, Stabilisation, Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Assistance of the German Federal Foreign Office); Josephine Ekiru (Peacebuilding Coordinator, Northern Rangelands Trust), and Yves Lador (Representative to the UN, EarthJustice).

ICP wanted our contribution to this event to reflect the long-term thinking and participatory solutions needed in this time of emergency. We wanted to emphasize that humanity no longer has the luxury of thinking “long-term” or remaining inert in the face of climate change. This is exemplified by the tenuous near future of the city hosting GPW: Geneva has been experiencing significantly lower levels of rainfall and could, eventually, face drought.

Recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have shown how unprepared the world is to meet crises. We cannot continue to face climate change with a similar lack of preparedness. Everyone plays a role as part of the climate problem, but we are also each integral to the solution!

This panel, and its guests, illustrated the different pieces and roles — government, local leadership, community, and civil society — that must work in concert in order to solve our current state of violence and climate crisis.

You can watch the video recording of the panel on YouTube.

Photo: (L to R) Yves Lador, Kealoha Fox, Guillaume Charron, and Deike Potzel at GPW22.

Crafting Effective Monitoring and Evaluation Frameworks: Lessons Learned from Environmental Peacebuilding

ICP Analysts attended a panel discussion between experts from The World Bank, the Environmental Law Institute, and consultants from Universalia’s Environment, Security and Conflict Transformation department. Panelists explored local actors’ experiences and next steps for foreign policymakers, organizations, and institutions collaborating with the private sector to achieve real change toward conflict-sensitive and rights-based methods to lasting and just economic reform.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Amanda Woomer (Intermediate Consultant for Universalia’s Environment, Security, and Conflict Transformation Practice). The panel featured Carl Bruch (Senior Attorney and Director of International Programs at the Environmental Law Institute), Eric Abitbol (Senior Consultant and Practice Leader for Environment, Security and Conflict Transformation at Universalia), and Tracy Hart (Global Lead for Environmental Risk Management/ESF and Fragile and Conflict States at The World Bank).

The panel discussed environmental peacebuilding — a meta-framework that encompasses several methodologies and initiatives for incorporating environmental concerns into conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution, and recovery. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) are thought to be critical for managing peacebuilding, development, humanitarian, and environmental actions. Effective M&E offers the foundation for developing interventions based on evidence and sound theories of change, as well as the tools and processes for stakeholders to better understand the outcomes of their work and how to improve it. It is often difficult to demonstrate links between the environment and conflict within the context of environmental peacebuilding. While the environment may be utilized as a tool for peacebuilding, environmental threats and the environment itself can also be a source of conflict.

Environmental peacebuilding proponents shared that the natural environment can bring people together, as well as drive them apart. Like other methods of peacebuilding, environmental peacebuilding can take decades to demonstrate its worth. Despite this, environmental peacebuilding is of great utility. It provides key mechanisms to build climate-resilient peace which is, in turn, fundamental to collaborative efforts to settle conflict in accordance with environmentally conscious principles. By focusing on how collaborative management of natural resources and environmental concerns can foster peace, environmental peacebuilding is a holistic approach that can effectively address climate-related conflict threats.

Theories of change in the environmental peacebuilding space need to be dynamic. Having the ability to revise and revisit theories of change is necessary as projects commence.

– Carl Bruch, Senior Attorney and Director, International Programs, Environmental Law Institute

Panelist field experts each leveraged their experience to provide participants with a variety of concrete skills and tools. They also offered participants practical direction and information on critical design, monitoring, and evaluation challenges. Participants were taught novel approaches to establishing theories of change — that place emphasis on systemic outcomes — and were given unique insight into how effective M&E practice might support environmental peacebuilding objectives.

The panel session’s unifying focus was environmental peacebuilding theories of change in areas such as conflict prevention, collaboration, confidence and trust building, addressing conflict causes and threats to peace, resilience building, enhancing gender equity, and conflict sensitivity. Addressing conflict causes and threats to peace theories of change, for example, entails addressing grievances about unequal access to land and other resources, as well as reshaping power dynamics by including environmental peacebuilding interventions aimed at transforming power relations between groups. One of the main lessons of this session was that shared environmental concerns can stimulate collaborative problem-solving and confidence building, and present an opportunity to lay the groundwork for long-term peace.

Photo: Participants in ICP’s workshop at GPW22.

Food Security for Peace: Exploring pathways to build peace through food and agriculture interventions

“Food security can be a vehicle to achieving a more peaceful environment.”

– Geneva Peace Week, 2022

The intersections between conflict, global hunger, and peace were explored in this online event hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)World Food Programme (WFP)Concern WorldwideWorld Vision International, and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

The current hunger crisis is a major issue plaguing millions of people. Christelle Hure, of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)’s West and Central Africa Office, lists the drivers behind this emergency as conflict, displacement, poverty, bad governance, and climate change.

The intersectional reality of today’s crises illustrates that the current food insecurity crisis (and the host of issues that it, in turn, creates) are worsened by climate shocks, where those who are already systematically marginalized are the most vulnerable. In the event, Hure explained how in conflict-affected areas and for communities under siege, a compounding array of risk factors — like inadequate access to resources, lack of access to markets and farmlands, and increased exposure to violence and isolation — are causing people to starve or risk their lives everyday in search of food.

“The world is facing a hunger crisis of unprecedented proportions in 2022 and we are at a critical crossroads. Up to 811 million people go to bed hungry every night. 60% of the world’s food-insecure populations live in conflict-affected areas. A total of 50 million people are facing emergency levels of hunger in 45 countries. In just two years, the number of severely food-insecure people has increased by more than 200 million, from 135 million to 345 million, and events in Ukraine this year have further proved how far-reaching the impact of conflict can be on food security.”

– Geneva Peace Week, 2022

It is evident that a holistic approach is needed to solve the global, and intersectional, issue of world hunger. As told by panelist H.E. Mr. Eamonn Mac Aodha, member of the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations, “Conflict prevention and conflict resolution must be front and center.” Josephine Nguta, a schoolteacher for a refugee camp in North-Western Kenya, added to the discussion by stressing the importance of investing in peace education in schools, communities, discussion forums, and professional trainings. Nguta further explained that learning the significance of peacebuilding and increasing the visibility of peace processes can enable people to contribute to peace in their communities, empower them to resolve conflict without violence, and uplift their voices as peacebuilders.

Panelists discussed that peacebuilding interventions have to be implemented in conjunction with other measures, such as: improving financing, better natural resource management, greater humanitarian assistance, sustainability transitions, supporting farmers, and improvements to security. By further addressing negative coping mechanisms, strengthening multilateral relationships, investing in peace education, increasing robust dialogue around peacebuilding and peace relations, and securing a positive sense of coexistence, peacebuilding can be a key avenue for creating a stronger and more equitable global community.

Watch the Nothing Kills Like Hunger Campaign video on YouTube

Photo: Participants in ICP’s workshop at GPW22.

Peace is Possible when…

In addition to other events, ICP was fortunate to sit in on an in-person workshop entitled, “Local, People-focused policymaking: Addressing securitization in conflict zones in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.” This event was co-hosted by directors at The Asia Foundation; the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office; the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center; and Verso Consulting.

Due to the physical hazards and social impacts of climate change, peace is at risk in communities in the Pacific-Asia region — ICP’s primary geographic focus area. The ICP team gained insight into effective approaches to addressing these risks throughout the Pacific-Asia region.

On a high level, panelists spoke on the importance of:

  • International cooperation, especially in relation to climate-induced migration and displacement.
  • Practical and progressive solutions for international legislation that address the implications of climate change for regions and countries.
  • Financial resources, which must be provided for development, security, and climate finance at scale in conjunction with these solutions.
  • Developing mechanisms for data collection, monitoring, and early warning, which can aid in these endeavors by improving comprehension and awareness of risks.
  • Building on action on the national and international stages; this, however, must also be accompanied by region-specific solutions.
  • The development of climate security assessments and effective assistance structures by region, which is vital for high level solutions to be suitable and impactful for local communities.

Working with communities is at the core of our work at ICP and is essential for sustaining peace moving forward.

ICP members were also able to attend a session entitled, “Increasing Militarisation and Feminist Foreign Policy: Compatible or worlds apart?” This discussion honed in on the reconciliation of growing securitization and the implementation of feminist foreign policies on the national level. Panelist Kristina Lunz, co-founder and co-executive director of The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, highlighted that global spending on peacebuilding is equivalent to just 0.4% of global military spending. There needs to be a shift of emphasis and resources away from militarization and securitization toward nonviolent solutions that promote peace and stability.

“Peace will not be possible without feminism.”

– Kristina Lunz, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of The Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy

Panelists were asked to contemplate the contradiction of militarization and feminism embedded within a single foreign policy. In response, Lunz underscored the importance of small steps — that individuals must spark change within their own spheres of work when it comes to issues as large as peacebuilding and foreign policy. The more patriarchal oppression and violence there is within a country, the less peaceful they are within and across borders. Feminism is therefore essential, especially in a world of increasing securitization. Feminist approaches are at the heart of ICP’s work on climate and peace, and ICP was grateful to be present at these discussions.

Key Questions for Reflection from GPW22

  1. What is one thing you will share with a friend or a colleague?
  2. What is one thing you wish you knew more about?
  3. What is one commitment you will make over the next year?

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The Institute for Climate and Peace (ICP) is a climate justice organization that understands the science and advances positive peace to build equity and climate resiliency for the communities most affected by climate change. Our mission is to advance effective and inclusive processes to build peaceful and climate-resilient futures for the wellbeing of all. We are re-envisioning how we relate to ourselves, each other, and our environment by investing deeply in positive peace strategies that are transformative and support the vision of communities at the frontlines of climate change. Find out more about us and our latest activities by staying connected.

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