Working Together for Peace, Now More Than Ever

By Alliance for Peacebuilding

The challenges of our time require greater coordination and collaboration than ever before. Global conflicts are increasingly complex and persistent, and the international community’s ability to respond is diminished when we work in silos or at cross-purposes. The need for a coalition to address the pressing challenges of global conflict is exactly why the Alliance for Peacebuilding exists. The Alliance is a global network of over 100 organizations and 15,000 individuals working to advance sustainable peace and security worldwide, with members operating in 153 countries.

The Alliance recently co-hosted an event on “Partnering for Peace: Working Together on Goal 16” with one of our member organizations, PartnersGlobal. The event was part of Global Partnerships Week, and focused on building inclusive coalitions to achieve Goal 16 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: promoting just, peaceful, and inclusive societies. Over thirty participants attended the interactive working group, including representatives of the State Department’s Office of Global Partnerships and Concordia, two of the hosts for Global Partnerships Week.

When asked why partnering for peace was so important, one attendee noted that “no one individual, organization or nation can afford to act alone” when dealing with these complex and urgent issues. And peace is certainly an urgent issue—over the past 15 years, political, criminal, interpersonal, and social violence has increased dramatically, along with a rise of terrorism and violent extremism. Over two billion people live in countries where development is negatively affected by fragility, conflict, and violence. In 2015 alone, violent conflict displaced over 65 million people and cost the world economy $13.6 trillion.

Reducing violent conflict is an enormous task, but not an impossible one, especially if we work together. Attendees shared strategies for reaching out to new partners in the pursuit of Goal 16, compared lessons learned from forming past partnerships, and identified new avenues for building coalitions around peace in the future. Here are some of the key takeaways from the discussion:

Charting the Course

In creating any partnership, there are several steps that need to occur. These are especially important when working in a complex context such as peacebuilding. The first stage in creating an effective partnership for peace is drafting a strategic plan that answers key questions about why partnering makes sense and how to go about it. Defining the vision is crucial—participants noted that the definition of “peace” is murky even within the field, and outside parties may have conflicting ideas about what that means. Creating a compelling case for peace will require using language that resonates with partners, and uses their frameworks for understanding the issue.

Connecting with New Partners

Reaching out and engaging with new partners can be daunting, so it’s important to come prepared with a good pitch that explains how they can play a role in building peace and why it matters to them. Participants noted that it can intimidating to reach out to “unusual” partners—organizations that are so far outside of the peacebuilding and development field that it’s difficult to convey shared interests and values. Sometimes partnerships can make turn sour, so it’s important to calculate the risks of partnering with the wrong people or organizations, and to have a clear sense of who you want to reach out to and why.

Convening the Parties

Getting people together can be a difficult task, especially if there’s no clear structure for communication and governance. It’s important to be clear with partners who is going to do what, and to consider the effect of power asymmetries and conflicting incentives in a partnership as potential barriers to success. Peacebuilding is about bridging divides, which is necessary in building effective partnerships as well. Participants noted, however, that sometimes a partnership needs a traumatic event to motivate the parties to move forward, and that good relations between partners does not always mean they will be successful in their endeavor.

Creating Shared Value

Once the partners begin working together, they need to make sure what they’re doing is conflict-sensitive and adheres to the Do No Harm principle. They also need to rigorously monitor their work and evaluate whether they are achieving their aims—for partnerships working to build peace, this might mean aligning their work to the indicators for Goal 16, such as “significantly reduce all forms of violence.” Participants noted that simply getting disparate sectors to come together for a peacebuilding initiative may be a metric of success, and that it might be useful for individuals from each organization to spend time learning about each other’s field or discipline to increase understanding between partners.

Communicating Success—or Failure

It’s crucial that the impact and effectiveness of a partnership for peace be communicated to all relevant stakeholders; even—and perhaps especially—if the results did not meet expectations. Selecting the right targets and distribution methods are important; participants noted that results need to be translatable, using language and frameworks that will resonate with each audience. Marketing the importance of peacebuilding needs to combine statistics with stories, achieving the right mix of evidence and emotional appeal.

Partnering for Peace

As an increasing number of organizations and individuals mobilize around the Sustainable Development Goals, the Alliance for Peacebuilding and its member organizations such as PartnersGlobal are making the case for the importance not only of Goal 16, but also Goal 17—creating partnerships to achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals.

To achieve impact at scale, governments, non-profits, and the business community must work together. These partnerships are already happening in a variety of ways with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals: the business community is rallying around the Goals through the Business for 2030, Impact2030, and Global Business Alliance for 2030 networks; the SDG Accelerator and Unreasonable Goals help incubate and scale up social enterprises that focus on the Goals; the United Nations has developed a partnerships platform for the Goals and Promoting Effective Partnering is providing tools and training to make the partnerships more effective; organizations like 17Goals, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and Aim2Flourish are providing global partnership opportunities around advocacy and education for the Goals; and the SDG Fund and Align17 are helping finance projects aimed at the Goals.

Join Us!

The Alliance for Peacebuilding and PartnersGlobal are at the vanguard of this movement, focusing specifically on creating partnerships for peace. We are actively engaging people, organizations, and governments to work on achieving Goal 16, building coalitions and providing resources to our partners who are making peaceful and prosperous societies a reality around the world. If you would like to join us in this effort, please email stone@allianceforpeacebuilding.org to learn more about how you can contribute.