The Year in Review

December 21, 2017

During these turbulent times, the peacebuilding field needs to stand strong and advocate for our principles, cultivate pioneering solutions to complex problems, and harness new resources. The Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) has been at the helm of this effort. In 2017, we have served as a public good for the peacebuilding field through our convening power, our advocacy, and our innovation. Below are a few highlights from the year.

2017 Annual Conference, “Peace Now More Than Ever”: This year’s conference, conducted in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace, brought together 460 participants, with 51 panels, 176 speakers, and the inaugural Future of Peace lecture by Dr. Eric Rasmussen. Participants told us that it “felt like family,” – a space to come together for solidarity and innovative thinking during a turbulent time in the US – and around the world. You can find a recap of conference media here. The conference report will be posted in the beginning of 2018.

Policy & Advocacy: In 2017, the Alliance for Peacebuilding significantly increased its advocacy work in response to the proposed draconian budget cuts to foreign assistance. We have worked extensively to defend funding that supports peacebuilding and advocate against these cuts through over 70 meetings with 50 different congressional offices. We have worked in coalition to pass legislation related to peacebuilding. We also offered our members’ technical expertise to policymakers through convenings on issues such as countering violent extremism and stabilization.

Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium: The Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium (PEC) is a field-wide effort to address the unique challenges of measuring results and learning from peacebuilding programs. The consortium includes the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP), CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, Mercy Corps, and Search for Common Ground (SFCG) with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

In the past year, the PEC has been working to change the peacebuilding M&E culture to demand more learning and accountability, demonstrate evidence-based results that show the field’s impact, and guide future policy change to improve peacebuilding practice. The PEC published an Online Field Guide and tested and refined a survey tool developed that measures the effects of a conflict management program on peace, security and economic well-being outcomes in Nigeria. Additional activities in 2017 included updating an evaluation systems map that illustrates the leverage points and barriers to better DM&E in peacebuilding, continuing the Peace Project mentorship program partnering to educate and coach evaluators, and supporting the DM&E for Peace website.

The DM&E for Peace website has drawn 26,000 new visitors in 2017 from 191 countries, and historically 41% of users have come from the global south. Our policy and advocacy around learning and evaluation has taken us from Washington, DC, to Paris, Brussels, and London, where have held three dedicated roundtables on adaptive learning for policymakers, donors, and implementers. In 2018, the PEC will focus on supporting the peacebuilding field to utilize and put into practice the tools developed to create more consistent and evidence-based standards of peacebuilding practice.

Effective Inter-religious Action in Peacebuilding: 2017 was a pivotal year for the EIAP program, a ground-breaking initiative that seeks to improve the evaluation practices of inter-religious action in peacebuilding. The EIAP Program is a partnership program between Alliance for Peacebuilding, Search for Common Ground, and CDA Collaborative with support from GHR Foundation. It seeks to increase understanding of current practices in inter-religious action and the status of evaluation efforts, build a framework for developing an evidence base for effective inter-religious action, and advocate for policies that support effective inter-religious action in peacebuilding and development around the world.

2017 brought to fruition one of the major goals of this three-year initiative: the publication of the Faith Matters: A Guide for the Design, Monitoring & Evaluation of Inter-Religious Action for Peacebuilding. This process including field piloting and testing in more than 7 countries and contributions from the EIAP eleven member Global Advisory Council (GAC). EIAP also held a joint roundtable with the European Institute of Peace, convening European Union policymakers and European-based NGOs to discuss effective learning & evaluation for inter-religious action.

To continue their advocacy work and support ongoing inter-religious action in peacebuilding and development, the EIAP Program further released a Key Learnings Document and Policy Brief. The Key Learnings document provides a summary of the key learnings and findings gathered across the EIAP Project. The policy brief summarizes overall findings from the EIAP Project on faith sensitive design, monitoring, and evaluation of inter-religious actions for peacebuilding. It provides key policy recommendations based upon these findings for policymakers, donors, implementers, practitioners, and evaluators. To continue to build upon this pioneering work, AfP is currently synthesizing the key insights and learnings from the EIAP Program publications to create practical training materials that can be used to develop the skills and knowledge of faith-based and secular organizations working on programs where there is an inter-religious aspect to better design, monitor, and evaluate these programs from a faith-sensitive perspective.

Re-Wiring the Brain for Peace: This groundbreaking project is exploring a new resource for peacebuilders: the plasticity of the human brain. Designed by neuroscientists, social scientists, spiritual leaders, and peacebuilders, the project is working to support innovative research at the intersection of peacebuilding, neuroscience, and spirituality; create accessible tools for practice; and use scientific findings to inform broader narratives and nonviolent social movements. Highlights from this year include podcast interviews for the Shift Network’s “Summer of Peace” and the transformation of their curated database into an interactive literature map!

Joint Public Opinion Survey with Conciliation Resources: In June and July of 2017, Conciliation Resources and the Alliance for Peacebuilding conducted the first ever national surveys of public attitudes in the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany towards peacebuilding and dialogue with armed groups. The survey offered the opportunity to compare and contrast public views at a time of shifting geopolitics and multiple security challenges. The results showed a striking level of unity across the political spectrum in all three countries, with widespread understanding of and support for peacebuilding, and strong support for dialogue with groups who use armed violence, in order to further peace. Find the full report here.

CEO Strategy Calls: AfP held two large calls with CEOs of its member organizations during 2017 to facilitate and mobilize action surrounding advocacy and AfP’s work. In March, we hosted a call with over fifty of AfP’s CEOs, to build consensus on key advocacy goals and messaging surrounding initial proposals to drastically cut U.S. foreign assistance. You can find a recap of the conversation here.

In December, AfP reconvened with its member CEOs to provide updates on advocacy work, the status of major policy issues, and then discussed how its members can participate in this work. Since the CEO Call in March, AfP’s advocacy work had significantly increased. We highlighted our efforts in opposing the proposed budget cuts to overall foreign assistance funding, and specifically to peace-related accounts. We also have made the case to Congress on peacebuilding and violence reduction programming, focusing on proving impact, sharing results from our public opinion survey, and advocating for the Violence Reduction Bill.

We have also bolstered State/USAID on technical issues (CVE, fragility, etc.) through our working groups, and on the redesign, supporting conflict prevention/violence reduction/fragility as an organizing principle. Member CEOs also provided ideas and feedback on how AfP can strengthen its current work in advocacy.

International Day of Peace: AfP played a strong role in coordinating messaging and action surrounding the International Day of Peace at the United Nations. We joined 131 other organizations in a joint-declaration and our CEO, Melanie Greenberg, along with Julia Roig, delivered a joint-message on how it is our moment to “shout for peace.

Systems Mapping: In order to find points of leverage for collective action, AfP joined forces with Rob Ricigliano and staff from the Omidyar Group on a year-long systems mapping process. We have built on the map in a series of conversations, ranging from our board meeting through the annual conference, where over 80 AfP members and conference participants refined the map in a workshop led by Rob Ricigliano and Nichali Ciaccio. We will soon publish key “leverage points” for collective action, based on the map. The latest version of the map is here.

June Strategic Retreat with US and International Partners: In June, we convened a retreat to build on the advocacy momentum of our CEO meeting, and to continue to find points for collective action. The retreat included a systems mapping workshop led by Rob Ricigliano, and roundtables on advocacy, partnership, and innovative finance for peace.