Why is there a need for change?
The world is facing major threats to global peace. Many of the conflicts we see today are ‘old’ conflicts where the causes of violence have gone unaddressed for years. New conflict lines between North and South, the West and the rest, are developing rapidly.
Most international efforts in conflict-affected contexts are undertaken within the framework of bilateral and multilateral agencies. These efforts tend to face the following challenges: a focus on technical knowledge rather than contextual knowledge; a lack of recognition of the complexity and focus on linear and single dimensions; limited attention to building relations with local counter-parts; relatively short-term and unpredictable in terms of funding; and lack of flexibility and creativity due to an orientation towards quantifiable results and predefined indicators. The result of these challenges has been a polarized environment marked by practices perceived by host actors as disrespectful and undignified and with little actual sharing of knowledge and ideas.
In sum, the space for collaboration has been far from conducive for promoting sustainable peace in a number of conflict-affected countries. As such, International engagement to promote sustainable peace and help prevent renewed violent conflict have not proved to be effective, despite several reform initiatives and good intentions. Most agree that changes are needed in the conditions for funding, programming and implementing peacebuilding efforts in order to promote a conducive space for collaboration on peacebuilding. The scope of the challenge has been known for years, however it has proved easier said than done. There is now a pressing need to come up with innovative ways to jointly explore, visualise and take action on future avenues for multi-stakeholder collaboration in a robust global peace infrastructure that is better fit for sustaining peace and preventing violent conflict. Conducive Space for Peace intends to do just that.
CSP Mission and Vision
Conducive Space for Peace (CSP) aims to transform the international system of support to peacebuilding in a manner that puts local leadership first and changes the structures, attitudes, practices, and processes of collaboration between international and local actors working to promote sustainable peace at country level.
We envision a global collaboration on peacebuilding that takes its point of departure in locally lead peacebuilding processes. We envision an international peacebuilding system that strengthens the agency and power of local actors in peacebuilding to lead inclusive peacebuilding processes and provides a conducive space for equal and dignified collaboration for sustainable peace. Achieving such a shift requires a multitrack change process and working strategically with multiple sets of actors, including change agents inside international institutions at country and HQ levels and like-minded NGOs, international as well as local, who pursue this change agenda.
Conducive Space for Peace (CSP) will catalyse joint engagement among change agents to create evidence that builds momentum for change, provides learning and direction, and forms the basis for leveraging change. We will identify and fill gaps in the evidence needed to facilitate change, create space for synthesising evidence in new ways, and channel convincing evidence to the right people at the right time and in the right way.
CSP will accompany and support change agents in leveraging change and will create innovative spaces for jointly identifying ‘acupuncture’ points and adding the ‘critical yeast’ to the systemic change process. We will catalyse change by creating spaces that connects change agents to be part of a ‘community’ of change makers that reflect and strategise together and pursue joint action to leverage change.
CSP will catalyse joint action for change with a focus on creating platforms for ongoing for ongoing collective reflection and action on systemic transformation, linking the country level engagement with global level engagement/dialogue. Through this collective action we will scale innovative and transformative initiatives so that they contribute to broader systemic transformation.
This way of working through evidence, leverage, and action will form the core part of our three overall pathways for change:
• Build momentum for change
• Support change agents in leveraging change
• Catalyse joint action for change
CSP will seek complementarity of change efforts that address the three key dimensions of systemic change: structures, attitudes, and practices. Changing the modality of support to local actors through new funding mechanisms can be one avenue for change, but it will not amount to broader systemic transformation unless accompanied by changes in attitudes and new everyday practices. Changes in practices on local accountability processes may not amount to broader systemic transformation if not taken to scale, and if the insights gained through that process do not lead to institutional learning and changes in programming.
How did we get here?
Conducive Space for Peace (CSP) was founded in 2016 by Mie Roesdahl through an extensive consultative process involving a broad range of peacebuilding and development practitioners. The initial dialogues took place in Nepal in 2012 and 2013 among international and national practitioners – including John Paul Lederach, Chris Spies and George Varughese – with a focus on the challenges of international peacebuilding support and how to shape a global transformative agenda to change how International institutions support peacebuilding efforts led by local actors. The CSP initiative and organisation was launched within the institutional framework of the Centre for Resolution of International Conflict (CRIC) at University of Copenhagen in November 2016 with Humanity United and Reos as dialogue partners.
In mid-2017, the organizational set-up shifted with the start of an ‘incubator phase’ with funding and strategic support from Humanity United (with Director Elise Ford in the lead), Oxfam IBIS as lead implementing agency (with Mie Roesdahl as Secretary General and Mariama Conteh as CSP lead) and Reos Partners as partner (with Director Mille Bojer as counter-part). At the end of 2018, CSP was re-invigorated as an independent Danish NGO with a global agenda and outreach. As of January 2020, a multinational team of staff members was assembled to fully commence working towards a transformation of the global peacebuilding system to shift power to local actors. CSP is guided by a strong Danish board and supported by a broad global network of like-minded change agents.