Pursuit of Sustainable Peace: National Ownership, Inclusion and International Solidarity

Excellencies; Ministers, Honorable representatives of governments from around the world; dear UN colleagues; civil society and academic partners; Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, and the International Commission on Inclusive Peace I have the honor to welcome you all to this event on “The Pursuit of Sustainable Peace: National Ownership, Inclusion and International Solidarity.”

Yesterday, 21 September, the world celebrated the International Day of Peace, a day that the UN General Assembly has devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace. Yet our collective concern about the state of peace around the world – with less than one decade to achieve the SDGs – is why we are here. Today’s discussion on ‘new’ or renewed principles for peace also points in that direction.

Allow me to be provocative and share our grave concerns, as a development entity with a large global footprint, working with many of you on the ground. A mind-set change, a complete transformation, is required. I believe it is possible, and I am confident that you do as well.

Why the urgency, and how do we do this? These are difficult questions that the partners and panelists will attempt to answer. So, let me frame next few minutes with what we consider a call to action to be transformative in our collective prevention and peacebuilding work.

While the weight of politics looms large in conflict and peacebuilding, we are strengthening our resolve and paving the road to what we are calling ‘development pathways to prevention and peacebuilding.’ This task, I believe, is well within the reach of development actors, working closely with other actors in different pillars and sectors, including political and human rights.

Today’s development failures may be an indication: political and socio-economic exclusion, fragile governance and weak social service institutions, fraying or broken social contracts, shrinking civic space and rising hate speech, and extreme vulnerability to external shocks like climate change and pandemics among others. Then the basis of the response will have to be about preventing this negative slide and indeed reversing these trends.

We firmly believe Prevention is Possible with greater, targeted and collective development investments. In our own work, our evaluations, and from our dialogue with partners, we know the gaps. We know that we do not operate at scale, that we do not engage early enough, that our support to national partners is timid, unpredictable, and slow, and that we shy away from or underestimate risk. With this knowledge, we must put ourselves on the path to address these gaps together, as international actors, as national governments, as civil society.

Our UNDP Strategic Plan for 2022-2025, which was just approved, places institutions and people at the center. It paves the way for addressing these complexities throughs three directions of change: supporting structural transformations that are inclusive and sustainable, by leaving no-one behind, and by building resilience of countries and institutions to prevent, mitigate and respond to disruptions, conflicts, crises and shocks.

Critical for our meeting today is our focus on being able to future-proof our engagements – particularly on governance, and to use digital spaces as opportunities for connectivity and inclusion rather than dissemination of hate and incitement, and to do so in support of national priorities and rights-based agenda.

While partnering naturally with governments, civil society, women, youth, traditional and faith-based leaders remain critical actors for peace and for social cohesion, not as project implementers, but as strategic partners.

Also critical is what we collectively bring to table as international actors in support of nationally-owned development and peacebuilding priorities. Our convening capacity, our voice for advocacy, and our tangible support is crucial.

Echoing the UNDP Administrator’s message to the Peacebuilding Commission earlier this year, this is where drastic change is required; we need a paradigm shift from funding peace projects, to financing integrated peacebuilding strategies. We need urgently to pivot to resourcing for peacebuilding whereby we leverage all our human, financial and partnership resources for transformation.

As we look together toward a daunting horizon, with Afghanistan and Yemen, but also with Libya and Somalia, with the Lake Chad Basin, with Haiti and Mozambique, we must together turn our concern to hope, our frustration to resolve, and our aspiration to reality.

Tension reduction between host communities and refugees in Lebanon, Women as insider mediators in the Philippines, Recovery platforms with the local government, private sector, civil society and tribal leaders in Yemen, Youth denouncing extremism in Asia: these examples can be multiplied to reach the transformation we need, the transformation humanity deserves.

I look forward to hearing the experiences and aspirations of our panelists, and to collaboratively building even stronger momentum for sustainable and inclusive peace.

Thank you.

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