Inclusivity in peace, development come to focus at regional conference

1. Swedish Dialogue
Participants at the “Overcoming Obstacles to Inclusivity in the Peace and Development in the MENA region” conference in Amman, on November 17, 2022. (Photo: Twitter)
AMMAN — With the aim of discussing ways to overcome the obstacles to inclusivity in peace, security, and sustainable development, the Swedish Dialogue Institute for the Middle East and North Africa hosted the opening session of the "Overcoming Obstacles to Inclusivity in the Peace and Development in the MENA region" conference.اضافة اعلان

"When in 2015 the Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the UN, it was clearly stated the interlinkages between topics such as poverty, education, gender equality, and peace and security and how they all relate to each other," Charlotta Sparre, director of the dialogue institute, said during the opening session on Thursday.

"Actions in one field will influence the outcome in another," she told the gathering of 50 participants from across the MENA region and Europe at the Fairmont Amman.

Citing the MENA region's rising conflicts and development challenges, the conference, according to Sparre, aims to tackle these challenges through a series of interactive dialogues.

"We all have a mission in trying to overcome the challenges by … finding better methods in working together," she added.

The sessions aim to explore mechanisms to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration amongst the public and private sectors, civil society, academia, and others.

Speaking to Jordan News, Sparre said the conference's goal is to "identify challenges and (to find) ideas on how to overcome them. Both in terms of sharing what has worked — as we sometimes get focused on what is negative — and in terms of finding fresh ideas."

"Then we want these discussions to become recommendations, to inspire many, especially those coming from different sectors, to use this in their respective work," she pointed out.

"This (conference) is not just about politics. It is not just about Sweden and Jordan. This is about the MENA region as a whole and the EU as a whole. It is about how can we understand … and collaborate with each other better," said chairman of the dialogue institute's advisory committee and former prime minister, Omar Razzaz.

Lauding the dialogue institute's commitment to "effective dialogue", Razzaz emphasized: "Dialogue is both an end and a means to all sorts of networks and actions. … So how can we bring the voices that have not been properly heard … to the center of the decision-making process?"

The conference began with a panel discussion with Asma Khalifa, a Libyan activist and researcher who focuses on human rights, women's rights, and youth empowerment since; Nassif Hitti, a Lebanese diplomat and academic, and former minister of foreign affairs; Rola Dashiti, the executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia; Nadim Houry, the executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative; Nouha El Milkawi, the dean of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cario; and Rouzbeh Parsi, head of the MENA department at the Swedish Institute for International Affairs.

Topics such as the definition of inclusivity, representation, accountability, public spaces versus private space, and the role of the EU were discussed during the panel before a roundtable discussion ensued.

Breakout sessions at the conference included subgroup discussions on gender equality and how to achieve it, intergenerational dialogue, and breaking the silence between different sectors of society.

"What we are aiming to do — and of course, it is not perfect — is to bring people who are working at a grassroots level. And while it is not the same thing as bringing in people who are directly impacted, … we hope that the people participating will bring in the voices," said Sparre to Jordan News.

"It is not a question of a top-down impact, but a question of bringing in voices to add to the discussion," she added.

The conference was held on the margins of the State Visit to Jordan by Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden.

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