As we embark on a new year, Conveners.org Member Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN) shares a list of 15 recommendations to help make the world more peaceful and just:
1) Examine How to Create More Peace in Your Personal Life: If we do not have some degree of peace in our own internal lives, there is the question of how effective we can be in helping to build peace in our organizations, communities, societies and the world. There is no recipe for building peace, but there are many options that people have explored such as mediation, yoga, exercise, writing, reflecting, building community and more. Some key resources here are: Peace Revolution, Beliefnet.com, The Fetzer Institute, Charity Focus and The Daily Good.
2) Learn Something New: With the advent of tech for change, massive online open courses and apps for change, there is a wealth of opportunities to learn new skills and knowledge. To see some key resources in this area visit PCDN’s Resource Guides on Apps for Change and also for Emerging Trends in Massive Online Open Courses that have a wealth of opportunities. See also innovators, such as TechChange‘s wonderful online courses on topics ranging from 3D printing for social good to mobiles for international development. Or check out the wonderful offering from the United States Institute of Peace’s Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding and their online courses. Another great resource is learning a new language online, which can be done for free for example through Duolingo
3) Get Additional Training/Education: There are many different paths to pursuing a career in international conflict and related fields. If you feel like you might benefit from additional training there are many academic options, professional training programs, summer institutes and more that can help provide additional training and skills. See the Guide to Training on the Network, the Guide to Academic Programs.
4) Connect with Like Minded and Inspiring Peers: There are countless formal and informal events to connect with and be inspired by like minded individuals in the diverse sectors represented on PCDN. Consider attending the amazing Opportunity Collaboration event which convenes 400 key though and social change leaders from around the world. See also PCDN’s Guide to key events/conferences in peacebuilding. Also look into the wonderful new world of co-working and shared spaces that is booming around the world, to help catalyze and inspire organizations working across diverse sectoral areas. See PCDN’s new Guide to Shared Spaces, Co-Working, and Local International Development Networks.
5) Advocate for a Change in Global Priorities: There is a desperate need to change global spending and priorities. The global community spends more than 1.6 trillion USD per year on security, 130+ billion USD on global development, less then 10 USD billion on UN Peacekeeping operations, and less then 4 billion USD on peacebuilding and conflict resolution activities. Until this mismatch of funding and need is changed, building sustainable peace will be remain difficult. In addition a challenge in conflict prevention is that often policymakers, NGO professionals, academics and others may have information about the potentially negative direction of conflicts. However, translating this information to effective policy changes often requires extensive advocacy campaigns by individuals, NGOs, religious groups and the larger civil society. Advocacy can mean anything from writing a legislature, talking with policymakers, taking direct action and more. For some useful examples of Advocacy Approaches see the International Crisis Group, Women Thrive Worldwide and the Genocide Intervention Network. See also the wonderful work of the Institute for Peace & Economics on Quantifying the benefits of peace and the costs of conflict.
While it is clear the threat of terrorism is real and many lives are lost each year through political violence, it is also important to emphasize that many more lives are lost each year through through disease, hunger and other more easily treatable and actionable items. For example people are Americans are 19,000 times more likely to die in a car accident than a terrorist attack (see http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/04/statistics-you-are-not-going-to-be-killed-by-terrorists.html). This is not to say spending on preventing terrorism is not important, but if more funding were put into public health, humanitarian assistance, education and infrastructure, millions more lives would be saved and improved each year.
6) Share Your Experiences and Hopes for Peace, As Well as Frustrations Around Conflict: This site is intended as an open resource where people can share both their success stories of helping to address conflicts around the world, and also ask questions/inquiry about ways to improve practice. If you have a particular success story, please share it with others. If you have questions/challenges that you would like input on please feel free to post it on this site in a forum discussion or blog and of course on other social networking sites. Please see our guide to Blogging for social change
7) Read Positive Peace Media News in the World: Despite the many hardships in the world, there are countless organizations that are reporting and supporting positive social change and reporting on innovative work taking place every day. Some key resources include Peace Direct, the Daily Good, Good, Global Press Institute and Solutions Journalism Network. Also see the PCDN guide to key media resources in peace building.
8) Join an Existing Network: There are many academic and professional networking organizations that exist around the world that focus on conflict related issues. In the United States, the Association for Conflict Resolution is a network of practitioners, the Alliance for Peacebuilding is a network of organizations, the Peace and Justice Studies Association is a network of academics and activists, the International Conflict Management Association has an annual conference. Also see the Guide to Key Network Organizations.
9) Engage in Productive Dialogue with Others: One of the keys of addressing conflicts is building understanding and connections between people with diverse perspectives. There are many organizations working on facilitating and engaging communities in dialogue, conversation and discussion. Find an organization in your community, or start your own process. Some great resources in this area include Masterpeace, Sustained Campus Dialogue Network, Public Conversations Project , the Kettering Foundation, and the World Cafe.
10) Foster Sustainable Economic Development: One of the key ingredients in building peace in post-conflict societies is to help create sustainable economic opportunities for communities. This can be done through a variety of means, international development, social entreprenuership, socially responsible investing, lobbying for changes to foreign assistance programs and more.
11) Think How You Spend and Invest Your Dollars: Many companies have long put the pursuit of profit over other concerns. Thankfully for an ever increasing segment of companies around the world, there is an increasing interest in going beyond the profit motive to look at the triple bottom line of people, profit and planet. Some companies are also adding the fourth p of peace. Thus, consumers can exert tremendous pressure now on companies and try to purchase from entities that are considering the long-term environmental and human costs of their operations and products. Moreover, for individuals who are investing in stocks and bonds, an increasing number of investors are putting their resources into socially responsible investing. For example, according to the The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, ” more than one out of every six dollars under professional management in the United States—$6.57 trillion or more—was invested according to SRI strategies.”
12) Build a Social Change and Purpose Driven Careers: Many individuals are seeking to build careers that do go good for others. There is increasing movement towards purpose driven, ethical and high impact careers. PCDN’s Career Resources offer tremendous support in this area, including the world’s best meta-list of career sites/lists in social change see Career Resource Guide. Other key resources in this area include Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose, Bmeaningful, and the Omidyar Network.
13) Build Community in your Own Life/Volunteer: There are many ways to build community in your own personal and professional circles. If you don’t know your neighbors, invite them over for a party or gathering, start a new group to gather people around a common interest, look for exiting volunteer opportunities (see www.volunteerweb.org), contribute time and resources for helping others, etc.
14) Support Organizations Working to Effect Change in the World: There are thousands of dynamic organizations around the world working to address conflict, build community, foster economic development and more. There are many ways you can support organizations such as contributing financially, volunteering, and more. I do not want to endorse specific organizations, but some resources that can be helpful in identifying opportunities include the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Interaction, GuideStar, Global Giving, among others.
15) Do Ethical Travel: Traveling to other regions can be one of the most inspiring and useful ways to learn, connect and be of service to others. Although it is essential to be aware of the many potential negative impacts of travel such as environmental damage, exploitation of locals, etc. For some key suggestions and resources see PCDN’s Guide to Peace and Tourism.
This post originally appeared on PCDN, and is republished here with permission.