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Collaboration in an Era of Global Polarisation

The Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)  hosted its 2017 immersive event, “Collaborating for a Safer World – Unlocking Transformational Ideas” at the Maison de la paix.

Key international players and stakeholders across public, private and non-profit sectors met at this day-long event to engage in expert-led workshops and discover ‘Curiosity Bites’ which showcased international peace and security narratives.

GCSP experts challenged perceptions and provoked thoughts by introducing new content and methodologies in support of peace, security and international cooperation. Three immersive workshops on terrorism, leadership and creative ways of thinking about public/private partnerships encouraged participants to find new ways of building trust and collaborating across sectors. Moreover, the GCSP launched ‘Curiosity Bites’, one-hour tasters that introduced participants to global hot topics that the GCSP is tackling year-round. Topics covered a wide range of areas from peace in the Middle East and Preventing Violent Extremism to safeguarding against cyber attack and the future of artificial intelligence. Participants learned new tools to deal with complex challenges, create short-term solutions for long-term impact, and identify key values for SMART partnerships. These elements together create a foundation to develop leading efforts in collaborating for a safer world.

“It is extremely important to do these outreach programmes that involve everybody,” said D. Helen Shapiro, President of Make it work! and participant to the event.  “This event here today is about taking the time, coming here, mingling with folks who are experts, who have a voice that carries in the industry, asking questions, learning new things, thinking differently.  This is extremely important when we want to push change. Any change that does not go to the grassroots level is not going to take at the end of the day.”

The day ended with the exclusive announcement of the winner of the GCSP’s 2017 ‘Prize for Innovation in Global Security’. This prize is designed to reach across all relevant disciplines and fields. It rewards the most inspiring, innovative and ground-breaking contribution of the year, whether this comes in the form of an initiative, invention, research publication, or organisation. It consists of a cash award of CHF 10’000.

Out of the 115 applications received, this year’s winner is EcoPeace Middle East for its Program on Water Security. Launched in 2017, this project scales up a very successful environmental peacebuilding model developed in the Middle East, to meet the urgent global need for cross-border cooperation to mitigate water conflict and manage shared freshwater ecosystems. Complementing government-to-government water diplomacy efforts, it seeks to establish relationships of cooperation and trust at the community, national and international levels, in order to increase resilience to climate-induced water stress and reduce the threat of conflict over shared water resources. Based in Washington DC, the program serves civil society organizations located in shared water basins worldwide and provides advice on how best to adapt bottom-up and top-down programming and strategies to the specific circumstances in the given locations. In addition to capacity-building activities to advance local environmental peacebuilding initiatives, the program develops strategic partnerships with international stakeholders, researchers, think-tanks, and academia. With offices in the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Israel, EcoPeace is the first and only cross-border environmental group in the Middle East and a trailblazer in the practical implementation of environmental peacebuilding.

“Water security is very important. Using a natural resource to get people together provides grounds for understanding how people in one location are interconnected with people in other locations,” said Marina Djernaes, Programme Director on Water Security of EcoPeace Middle East and winner of the 2017 Prize for Innovation in Global Security.  “My problems with water security are likely to be the same as my neighbours’ and your water security is likely to have an effect on my national security.”