Peace Innovation Initiative

The Peace Innovation Initiative (PII) envisions a world where the systems in which we live, and work, are formed on a culture of peace. Launched by the Commission for Peace, this bold new initiative is building an ecosystem for sustainable peacebuilding by bringing all society sectors together and harnessing their relative strengths and insights to innovate for change and for the achievement of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The University for Peace (UPEACE) serves as PII’s primary partner and intellectual home, whose curriculum and theoretical approaches to peacebuilding and peace education will be adopted by PII in its activities and programming.

    

We are living through a time of unprecedented division and contentious counter-narratives that further polarize people and halter progress. At the same time, through the digital era, catapulted forward during COVID-19 lockdown, we have proven to be more connected than ever before, with more tools than ever before that can be used for protection and progress of planet and people.

In order to create a paradigmatic shift in how we address today’s problems and build peace, the Commission for Peace understood that it would only be able to achieve its goals by bringing together global leaders & innovators from each society sector – especially conflict specialists, technologists, UN and government officials, as well as the private sector – to jointly create the solutions for tomorrow. The Commission for Peace also understood that such solutions would be best seen and supported by integrating the UN's SDGs and working closely with the United Nations - the world’s mainstage and global hub for human progress -, and with UPEACE specifically - the only university established by the United Nations' General Assembly focused wholly on the study of peace.

In May 2021, Barbara Winston and UPEACE Dean Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo - with the endorsement of UPEACE - entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to embark upon this ambitious effort for peace innovation and to build a sustainable model for peacebuilding, one that we can efficiently embed into our systems of operation, that keeps this global community progressing on an always-upward trajectory, where we know how to respond to challenges to peace.

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PII will use modern technology to both booster adherence to peace in civil society as well as to innovate for conflict prevention & peace acceleration in our societies to:

  1. Promote and unify a movement for peace in public discourse;
  2. Disseminate a global platform for peace education, accessible to all;
  3. Act as an incubator and accelerator for the most innovative peacebuilding projects;
  4. Consider how the Initiative’s activities and programs can have a positive impact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals; and
  5. Serve as a model for “cycles of change” through self-evaluations and real-time improvements.

At the heart of what we are creating is a sustainable cycle of progress towards peace. What we know this requires is peace innovation – innovations that can contribute to the end of cycles of violence or dangerous conflict while simultaneously contribute to the creation of sustainable cycles, built on a culture of peace, which allow for human progress. With that in mind, the Peace Innovation Initiative must practice what it preaches.

PII will operate in a self-sustaining manner, where PII's outputs support its infrastructure, in a circular model. In this way, PII values peace as a practice and believes such circular systems are the most effective way to create positive change and achieve the SDGs to:

  1. Develop, design and create peacetech projects, products & programs;
  2. Create and operate a digital learning platform for peace & peace innovation;
  3. Produce original research on peacebuilding & technology;
  4. Host high-level talks (virtually and in person) to promote peace & peace innovation as well as at UPEACE;
  5. Run media campaigns to promote a culture of peace and to promote peace education;
  6. Provide training & consultation to corporations or other entities interested in learning the skills of peacebuilding and/or implementing peace & SDG innovation into their workplaces or their operational structure.

The Commission for Peace is the advisory committee for the Peace Innovation Initiative, where Commission members act as the public guardians and advocates for PII and UPEACE.

The Commission for Peace, founded and organized by Barbara Winston with the University for Peace, is made up of leading figures and experts in peace and innovation from around the world, including Ms. Barbara Winston (President of the Commission); the Rector of UPEACE, Dr. Fransisco Rojas Aravena; the Dean of the University for Peace (UPEACE), Dr. Juan Carlos Sainz-Borgo; and the UPEACE Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Ambassador Narinder Kakar.

Find out more about the members of the Commission for Peace here.

As part of the Peace Innovation Initiative, The Global Center of Peace Innovation (aka the “Global Center”), will house all activities of the Initiative, most especially programmes, research & project development, as a global laboratory for peace. The Center will operationalize peace as a practice by aggregating, supporting and building ideas and projects to infuse into our global systems, sustainably, efficiently, ethically, and creatively. As civil society no longer exists solely within country or regional borders, the Center will immediately operate in a hybrid model, both in the physical and digital space, globally.

The digital peace education platform will allow us unprecedented reach into the hearts and minds of individuals around the world. It is our goal to educate people in the basics of peace literacy - understanding that peace doesn’t just come from resolving conflict but from developing sustainable systems as well. The digital platform will contain accessible, learning-style, week-long courses to provide peace literacy certificates to anyone around the world. We will also be offering eight, fully online, accessible courses as part of the University for Peace undergraduate degree.

In addition, we are using the full power of technology to scale our operations around the world to create an inorganic knowledge economy.  By having our courses accessible around the world, we are able to provide a platform for individuals with new ideas and innovations to receive access to resources. We will provide research support and incubation for businesses to allow local, community based projects to thrive.

Housed at PII-partner universities around the world, the Centers of Excellence will serve as satellite centers to the Global Center of Excellence (the “Global Center”), conducting peace research and producing peace innovation projects. Centers of Excellence will provide learning and training opportunities to students around the world to engage in the broader movement and mission of PII. PII will centrally invest in collaborative research and project-creation opportunities across Centers of Excellence and organized under the Global Center.

As part of PII’s first activity, and in support of the broader strategic development for PII, PII will launch a fellowship programme at the Global Center of Peace Innovation to support R&D and original research for peace innovation. The fellowship program will focus on the DNA of Peace where 10 doctoral fellows will be selected (2 per region) around the world to pursue the DNA of peace as part of their respective PhD research questions. In line with PII’s values, fellows will represent a variety of subject-matters, so the DNA of Peace is tackled from a variety of stakeholders and perspectives. The body of knowledge produced by the fellows will support the build-out and strategic direction of PII.

More information on how to apply to the fellowship is forthcoming.