EC2U Think Tank explored social innovations for inclusive peacebuilding


The EC2U Think Tank, held at the University of Turku on 29 May, brought together experts to discuss how social innovations can support inclusive and sustainable peacebuilding through grassroots initiatives.

The EC2U Think Tank is designed to act as a catalyst for ideas and a channel for the dissemination of knowledge and solutions. It aims to facilitate an open dialogue between citizens, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders on societal issues. Each university in the EC2U Alliance hosts its own Think Tank, the results of which are presented at the annual EC2U Forum. The joint observations of the Think Tanks are then compiled into policy recommendations.

This year's Think Tank focused on the topic of Social Innovation for Peacebuilding. The objective was to identify potential avenues through which social innovation can support inclusive and sustainable peacebuilding through bottom-up approaches.

The Think Tank in Turku took place at the University of Turku campus in the form of a panel discussion moderated by Senior Research Fellow Kimmo Elo (Centre for Parliamentary Studies, University of Turku). The panellists were Vice Chairman Eeva Kronqvist (CISV Naantali), Teacher and Global Education Coordinator Hanna Ruohikko (City of Turku), Research Director Jari Kaivo-oja (Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku), Secretary General Jarmo Pykälä (Committee of 100 in Finland), Senior Research Fellow Juho Korhonen (University of Turku), Doctoral Researcher Laura Puumala (University of Turku) and Human Rights Specialist Rosa Puhakainen (The UN Association of Finland).

Understanding peace as a dynamic process

The panel discussion was vibrant and insightful, with panellists emphasising that peace is not a static state but an ongoing process that requires multi-level engagement, from fostering global citizenship and educational partnerships to systemic reforms and political patience. The panellists observed that diverse interactions can reinforce peace, which can be defined in various ways, including inner peace, interpersonal peace, community peace, global peace, and ecological peace.

They panellists also noted that challenges in sustainable development may be detrimental to peace and peacebuilding efforts. However, it was also suggested that tools such as sustainability "X-rays" and heat maps can help to assess the risk of violence and conflicts, highlighting different priorities in and between states. Furthermore, the panel highlighted that different levels of democracy can be evaluated using indicators and innovative solutions.

The panellists concurred that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a pivotal role in fostering global citizenship from an early age, teaching conflict resolution and the prevention of conflict escalation. The discussion also highlighted the importance of focusing on both active and negative peace through a range of strategies while also recognising that conflicts are an inherent aspect of peace.

Building lasting peace through strong institutions and ethical leadership

The panel discussion highlighted the critical role of strong institutions in promoting peace, even in the face of occasional failures of political will. The panellists stressed that peace must be actively pursued at multiple levels, from local communities to global cooperation, challenging the notion that peace is simply the absence of violence.

With regard to the current situation in Europe, the discussion called for a review of the effectiveness of political leaders in advancing peace initiatives. The panel stressed the importance of balancing political realism with ethical considerations, advocating patient decision-making and a reassessment of power dynamics. The need for schools to prioritise social justice independently of political influences was also emphasised.

In terms of systemic change, the panellists called for social innovations such as digital engagement to combat societal apathy and promote inclusivity. Volunteering, as exemplified by initiatives such as CISV, was cited as a means to combat disillusionment, while educational partnerships with NGOs were identified as key to fostering dialogue and expertise. Children, educated about the nature of war, were seen as key actors in promoting continuity and positive relationships.

The discussion also called for systemic and technical solutions from global organisations such as the G7 and the United Nations to promote social innovations. It also highlighted the need for reforms within the EU and the establishment of a functioning world government, warning against the obstacles posed by totalitarian regimes. The panellists urged policymakers to embrace reform and integrate social innovation into European political discourse, using digital platforms to increase public participation.

Created 20.06.2024 | Updated 20.06.2024