The panel debate prepared the ground for innovative ideas and new partnerships and developed proposals and recommendations for future German peace and development policy. The panellists discussed the following questions:
How can cross-sectoral approaches contribute to peacebuilding and resilient societies and what should be done by policy makers and practitioners to promote comprehensive approaches for peace and development?
How can international development partners support innovative solutions and cross-sectoral approaches with flexible and reliable funding?
To find joint entry points and create an infrastructure of peace, the focus must be on taking up local priorities and potentials without competing about the importance of different prospects and development needs. While interests and methods may differ, cross-sectoral linkages beyond actors and policy fields can reach an increased impact, improve prospects for peace and generate more inclusive outreach. Peacebuilding should consequently not be considered as a stand-alone domain but as part of an integrated approach for cross-sectoral activities and partnerships. More sectors thus either need to be invited to the peacebuilding table – or peacebuilders must enter other sectors.
Lessons from the field: How can development efforts for food security, economic opportunities and digital spaces generate additional prospects for peace? While acknowledging that engaging in other sectors can also add new layers of conflict, the panellists demonstrated their valuable contribution to peacebuilding through their insights and examples from the field:
Agriculture and Food Security: Providing basic services and supporting local food production can reduce social tensions and provide a sense of normalcy within local communities. Local endeavours for farming and cultivation can further create collective action and skills development for all parts of society by including vulnerable, marginalised groups as an integral element of conflict prevention and inclusion.
Digital Space: Digital tools and communication are considered a relatively new dimension of peacebuilding for enhanced participation and inclusion. By adapting traditional methods and tools to the digital space, a peacebuilding perspective generates an added value in promoting non-violent forms of communication and countering misinformation, polarisation and hate speech.
Economic Development: Better livelihoods allow people to meet their basic needs and can reduce some of the grievances that could lead to violent conflict. Providing more viable options for development can also pave the ground for increased political participation of citizens and decision making based on local needs and priorities. As a precondition for sustainable investments, the local (conflict) dynamics need to be understood by the private sector and foreign direct investment. Thus, continuous dialogue and exchange are an important step in creating a trusting environment and generating mutual benefits.
However, cross-sectoral contributions for increased prospects of peace cannot create sustainable development without political will and commitment. Conflict-sensitivity must be a prerequisite for any type of programming in development cooperation and peacebuilding should be an integral element from the very beginning. The sequence of the programme design in conflict contexts is thus in dire need of change. In many cases peacebuilding remains an add-on after the planning has already been finalised. Another necessary element is more flexible funding in order to accommodate the long-term nature of peacebuilding and the complexity of cross-sectoral partnerships. Based on these observations, the panel discussion formulated policy recommendations for a peacebuilding lens on cross-sectoral approaches:
Policy Recommendations by the Panel
Funding channels need to be more flexible and comprehensive. Different funding streams for peace and development topics are not helpful. Try to break up political silos also in financing.
Be aware that the digital space is not just a tool, but a new dimension of peacebuilding. – Digitalisation can create leverage for peace, but also new layers of conflict. Stay involved with the digital space, invest in shaping digital processes, and adapt your methods and approaches.
Donors, use your political power! – To improve the hardship of the poor and vulnerable, there is also need to work on structural issues. Without political will, there is no sustainable solution for peace and development.
Go local and include grassroot organizations into the decision making. – There’s need for more flexibility in funding and supporting local civil society and for getting them involved into peacebuilding processes. This also requires supporting structures and efforts by policy makers.