As we finalize this issue of Building Peace, it feels as though the world is in greater need than ever of approaches to heal stark political divides, remedy glaring social and economic inequalities, and solve critical health and environmental challenges. As I write, international head lines express increasing urgency about the deaths in Gaza and Israel, the governance challenges exacerbating the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and the extreme violence across Central America forcing caretakers to send children unaccompanied and undocumented to the United States. This issue doesn’t have all the answers to the current violence raging around the globe, but it highlights the trends that will drive the conflicts of tomorrow and sets out creative peacebuilding and human security responses to those threats.
The Building Peace team conferred with experts from around the world to identify the types of conflicts that will become increasingly prevalent in the coming decade. Among these key leaders was Sundeep Waslekar, founder of Strategic Foresight Group. In his thought-provoking article, Waslekar provides a framework called 4-G, which categorizes the future of peace and conflict through the lenses of growth, governance, God, and geopolitics. Expanding on the insights of Waslekar and our other international authors, this issue of Building Peace calls out three specific conflict trends that demand our attention:
- Illicit economic activity
- Competition over natural resources
- Lack of state legitimacy
The articles in this issue provide a guide to understanding, probing, and predicting world events. It is natural to feel despair when following the news today as headlines continue to highlight escalating conflicts and crises across the globe. But what if we can turn despair into knowledge, action, and prevention? Our authors share key information and analysis that can help us navigate the future of peace and conflict. They tell stories that weave the conflicts of today and yesterday into visions of conflicts of the future, but they also point toward hope. Indeed, in the act of identifying conflict trends and documenting local prevention efforts, our authors trace the outlines of a path to a more peaceful future. In this issue, we high light the promise of technology (Puig), consider what a peacebuilding lens can contribute to crime prevention (Banfield), and are encouraged by a security expert to consider peace as a “transcendental destination” (Arquilla).
As D’Esposito and Martin suggest, global citizens like you are increasingly aware of their role in international dynamics: “Whether we produce or buy a wedding ring or a cell phone, society wants to know that no harm was done and that our purchases contribute to peace and development.” We know you will appreciate the exploration in their article and the accompanying one by Loch of Motorola Solutions in which our authors envision a peacebuilding model that involves government, private sector, and local actors “taking the conflict out of conflict minerals.”
While competition over natural resources deserves an entire issue of Building Peace, our focus here is specifically on water and minerals as a means of providing a look at one sub-sector, its challenges, and perhaps some solutions. The conversation around technology is also sweeping in scope, which is why we are devoting our March 2015 issue to the topic. Inside these pages is an illustration of the promise of peacebuilding technology — Wise and Mukhtar describe the way basic but powerful cell phone technology is preventing violence in rural South Sudan.
The purpose of issue four of Building Peace is to equip you, our readers, with knowledge, analysis, and first-hand perspectives that we can convert into action today. The conflict trends of tomorrow that our authors address are relevant now, but will become even more significant with time. Consider the articles in this issue of Building Peace an agenda that all of us can pursue. In the midst of conflict, inequity, and failed states, there are solutions, small and big, but they depend on our knowledge and commitment combined with human, financial, and technological resources. We welcome your feedback and comments on these exciting ideas and look forward to engaging with you.