As part of its ongoing work with Peace and Development Advisors (PDAs) through the Civil Society – UN Prevention Platform, QUNO co-hosted the virtual event, Strengthening Partnerships: Preventing Conflict Together. This was the second meeting in the Platform’s series to strengthen civil society – UN collaboration through enhanced partnerships with PDAs. The first discussion, Connecting Civil Society Organizations and UN Peace and Development Advisors, was held in August of 2020 and focused on collaboration in the face of COVID-19.
PDAs are deployed to countries and regions across the globe through the Joint United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) Programme on Building National Capacities for Conflict Prevention. As co-host, QUNO set out to help better connect PDAs and civil society through facilitating reflective dialogue. Participants exchanged best practices on how to increase local resilience, strengthen social cohesion, and respond to existing and emerging threats within their own contexts, both at the national and regional levels. QUNO felt it timely to provide this platform for PDAs and civil society as, months into the pandemic, exacerbated inequalities, increased social tensions, and faltering economies are expected to increase conflict. Thus, the role of partnerships in addressing these challenges is critical.
Issues raised in the meeting included how to support elevating local concerns to national or international fora and provide safe spaces for dialogue. It was acknowledged that UN programs are not intended to substitute grassroots initiatives, but instead to bolster them, which includes recognizing the value of local expertise. Repeated throughout the conversation was the need for the comprehensive inclusion of women and youth in peacebuilding efforts and understanding the importance of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. The nexus refers to the way gains or losses in peace, development, or humanitarian issues impact the progress of other areas, so to be effective addressing all three is important for sustainable advancements. The issue of climate security was frequently referenced, as climate change can negatively impact humanitarian and development aspects of the nexus, increasing the likelihood for conflict.
This discussion revealed an increased optimism on the success of civil society – PDA partnerships. QUNO believes PDAs and civil society each bring their own unique value to the table and the power of these partnerships cannot be overstated.