Peace on Earth: A Holiday Message & Year-In-Review From OEF

Peace on earth 2020 accomplishments OEF

The holiday season here in the US is often a time for reflection, well wishes, and the hope of “peace on Earth and good will” toward others. 

From all of us at OEF, we are wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. Join us in remaining mindful of the long road ahead, but hopeful for creating a better 2021. As we look to the new year and work toward the long-term goal of an earth beyond war, we’d like to share a few of the bright spots and highlights from our programs’ 2020 work creating pathways to sustainable peace. 

2020 Year in Review 

  1. Resiliency in the Peacebuilding Community During a Global Pandemic- Around the globe, our OEF colleagues, partners, and community members were not immune to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we are grateful for the health and wellbeing of our teams, and we greatly commend our staff and our programs for their resiliency to press on as we switched to operating remotely. From empowering Somali entrepreneurs to produce masks and ensuring the US had an inclusive response to COVID-19, to working on reincorporating ex-combatants and stopping the spread of COVID in Colombia, our programs and network partners have worked hard to benefit the local communities we operate in during the pandemic. We learned what one existential threat can teach us about another, we learned how to conduct operations with entirely dispersed teams, and we were reminded of what’s important to our OEF community.

  2. Building Partnerships for Peace at the UN75 Global Governance Forum- In September 2020, OEF joined  with partner organizations to convene the UN75 Global Governance Forum. The Forum was attended virtually by more than 3,500 people, promoting a more inclusive and effective United Nations. The sessions were robust with informative dialogue, and innovative partnerships for a strengthened United Nations that serves all of humanity as we tackle increasingly complex global challenges in 2020 & beyond. OEF Founder and CEO Marcel Arsenault also participated in a panel discussion on The Future of Philanthropy in Global Governance.

  3. Seeding Peace in (PASO) Colombia- Our PASO Colombia program spent 2020 focused on building up their Rural Alternative School program (ERAs), closing the year with 20 of them operating throughout the country. They partnered with the Universidad del Valle to publish a systematization report called, “The Base of the Mountain,” highlighting the reincorporation process of ex-combatants who have been working since 2017 among farmers to create economic opportunities in the first Rural Alternative School of the country, located in Miranda, Cauca. PASO also implemented, in partnership with the UN Multi-partner Trust Fund for Sustaining Peace in Colombia and the National Government, a Contingency Plan that turned ex-coca grower families into active drivers of sustainable development in their territories. In their docu-series “Women Seeding Peace,” released in April 2020, they spotlighted local Colombian women from these communities that are working to spread peace in regions of post-conflict. They also partnered with the Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business to conduct an in-depth examination of this coca crop substitution plan. Finally, they wrapped up their year receiving a special grant of the Colombian Ministry of Culture focused on telling the stories of the ex-combatants and local community members in the Mutatá ERA. 

  4. Advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda with Our Secure Future- After a busy year, our program Our Secure Future was excited to open their new office in Washington DC and help launch the WPS Congressional Caucus. One of their larger highlights from 2020 included when OSF Director Sahana Dharmapuri, along with a small team of others, briefed the Biden Transition team on recommendations on DEI, gender, and the WPS Act. Her top suggestions included supporting more coherence between peace and security-focused policies, like Gender and the GFA, and setting up consultations with women civil society leaders in conflict-affected countries where the US is involved. Additionally, OSF has a new series focused on male allyship in the WPS movement, an array of policy briefs, and they took a deep dive with Foreign Policy into assessing the next 20 years of women, peace and security.

  5. Creating a Network for Nuclear De-Escalation & Conversation with ONN- Our newest program, Open Nuclear Network, hit the ground running in 2020. In February, they joined the European Non-proliferation and Disarmament Network (EUNPD), a collection of think tanks combating weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. They also provided excellent analysis on North Korea’s new missile developments and viewbooks on the matter, and solid analysis on the history and causes of election violence ahead of the 2020 US election. Check out their Datayo platform for more reports and studies from experts in politics, nuclear energy, and de-escalation. 

  6. Fostering Economic Development in Somalia with Shuraako- Our Shuraako program is focused on empowering local entrepreneurs in Somalia to achieve their business growth, fuel the economy, and create a stable foundation for peace in regions of post-conflict. Their 2019 report showed that increased access to capital plays the largest role in increasing business revenues. In 2020, Shuraako closed an additional $19.7 million funding into the Nordic Horn of Africa Opportunities Fund (NHAOF), including $3.4 million in Technical Assistance and Cost Offsets. This raises the total funds that Shuraako manages (under the Nordic Horn of Africa Opportunity fund) to $24.3 million! Shuraako also had a large emphasis on empowering women entrepreneurs in the Somali region by providing affordable access to finance and tailored advisory support. Shuraako saw first-hand that the entrepreneurial culture of Somalis remained steadfast as many entrepreneurs were forced to adapt to a new way of life amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

  7. Fishing For Growth with Secure Fisheries- Our Secure Fisheries program had a fruitful year, kicking it off with the release of their Rough Seas report, focusing on the causes and consequences of fisheries conflict in Somali waters. They also expanded their Project Kaluun, which is a data collection initiative that’s compiled more than a year of monthly catch data through partnering with local universities. Furthermore, 2020 brought together eighteen Somali fisheries officers and data enumerators to lead a pioneering fisheries data collection project known as the Fisheries Data Collection Working Group. This is a nation-wide fisheries catch data collection program that seeks to produce national estimates of fisheries catch and economic contribution. Additionally, in August, representatives from the Puntland Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, along with the Bander Beyla fishing community convened to establish a system of power-sharing around fisheries management. Finally, at the UN75 event in September, Secure Fisheries announced a partnership focused on “developing a cold chain infrastructure for the Somali fishing industry,” which brings together the private sector, government, and civil society to address the challenge of low profit margins, poor seafood quality, and limited market size in Somali fisheries. 

  8. Riding the Peace Wave with Stable Seas- This fall, our Stable Seas program released the 2020 edition of their flagship product, the Stable Seas Maritime Security Index, which compiles and visualizes nine key issue areas in 71 countries across Africa, the Middle East, and the Indo-Pacific. The launch event, hosted in partnership with SIGLA at Stellenbosch University, explored how the data in the index can be leveraged to inform policy decision making in the African context. Additionally, they released the Stable Seas: Caribbean report, which was produced in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, builds off of the Index’s scope, and provides analysis of the same nine issue areas specific to countries in the Caribbean Sea. Stable Seas also released two additional policy briefs - the first on addressing piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, and the second on opportunities for blue economic development in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindinao. Finally, our Stable Seas researchers along with our Secure Fisheries researchers, wrapped up the year by presenting alongside some of the best and brightest at the Geography 2050 Conference.

Thank you for being part of our One Earth Future community, and may 2021 be filled with even more bright spots for all.

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