What’s new: The Impact:Peace initiative launched this summer to provide “real” impact on peace-building on the ground, its founders say. The goal of the million-dollar project is to significantly reduce conflict worldwide, while accelerating the most important changes in the peace-building field. As the United Nations Security Council remains divided geopolitically and unable to stop or resolve many conflicts across the globe, peace-building programs outside the UN strive to fill the peace gap.
Where: Located at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego, Impact:Peace partners with the Stanley Foundation — which is renaming itself the Stanley Center for Peace and Security on Nov. 11 — and the newly formed +Peace Coalition, a group focused on tackling global violence and division.
Goals: Although many peace-building and prevention practices exist, Rachel Locke, the director of the initiative, said in an interview that trends are moving in the wrong direction: “We have a lot of knowledge that is needed to reduce and prevent conflict and violence, yet that is not having the change that we want to see in terms of lowering the toll of conflict and violence.”
That is why Impact:Peace intends to be a “warehouse,” Locke said, collecting relevant research to amplify “the best work that’s out there.”
“Our job will be really to curate that research in such a way that it can feed into the change processes that will have greatest impact,” Locke said. The change processes, she added, include legislation, policy, an advocacy movement or a campaign.
Research will also be done by the initiative, notably in areas where there are gaps; for example, on how a public health approach to violence can be used in conflict and fragile settings.
“What we are trying to fill is the space between the knowledge and the action,” Locke says.
Partners: Impact:Peace will work with global advocates, practitioners and policymakers to identify the processes in the peace-building and violence-prevention fields that are having the strongest effect.
The initiative, for example, is both a facilitator and research provider for the Peace in Our Cities Campaign. This new campaign is organized by the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies and the +Peace Coalition.
The campaign is aligned with Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals, calling for more peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Impact:Peace says that 82 percent of deadly violence in the world occurs outside conflict zones. with a large proportion occurring in urban settings.
So far, 11 mayors and local officials representing more than 15.8 million people from across the world — Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Nairobi, Kenya; Guadalajara, Mexico, to Bangui, Central African Republic — have pledged to work on halving violence in their cities by 2030.
“We strive to see reductions in urban violence on the order of 50 percent by 2030,” Locke said, adding, “Obviously, we would love to see that earlier.”
Lauenstein, a former businessman and now a painter, lives in New Hampshire and also founded the Purdue Peace Project, a political violence-prevention program located at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. He has donated the core funding of $1 million to Impact:Peace.
Its accomplishments will be measured by the number and importance of the partnerships it initiates and what they do; the amount and relevance of the research that it sponsors; the effects in the peace-building community; and the reduction of armed conflict.
“Now over 90 years old and a Quaker, I share with my family our responsibility to do what we can to promote cooperation, peace, and freedom from suffering among our fellow human beings,” Lauenstein notes on his website.
“The principal way I do this is by devoting my time and money to reduce armed conflict in the world. Surprisingly, I have had some success, and am optimistic about new initiatives in that direction.”
This article was updated.
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N’Dongo Athie is a reporter who covers the United Nations for the Asahi Shimbun and is a correspondent for Radio France International. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the Free University of Brussels and a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Lorraine, France. Athie is fluent in English, French, Fula and learning Arabic. @NdongoA1