World Vision International, my host organization, provided me with an opportunity to take part in the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AFP) conference. Before I speak about the conference, I should mention what Alliance for Peacebuilding (AFP) is. AFP is a global membership association of over 100 peacebuilding organizations, 1,000 professionals, and a network of more than 15,000 people working to resolve conflict and create sustainable peace in 153 countries.
They organized a AFP Annual Conference which took place on May 24-26th in Washington, DC, and saw more than 500 attendees and 155 speakers from 23 countries and 195 different organizations participate in over 3 full days of programming. This conference was entitled Next Gen Peace. The conference was this year’s largest gathering of the peacebuilding community, and brought together peacebuilding practitioners, military personnel, foreign policy officials, diplomats, and private sector experts to examine the most important issues in peacebuilding.
The conference featured 49 unique sessions and exhibited cutting edge developments in the field – including a storytelling workshop with Sandra Buffington of UCLA’s Global Media Center for Social Impact, a “Creative Teams” Panel that included the Administrator of NASA and the saxophonist for The Rolling Stones, a Portal by Shared_Studios that connected conference participants directly with citizens in Iran and Mexico, and a keynote address by John Paul Lederach, Professor of International Peacebuilding at University of Notre Dame.
For me, one of the best presentations was given by Dr. Jeremy Richman (Founder and CEO, The Avielle Foundation). The theme of his presentation and his study was to reduce violence through brain health; I strongly encourage everyone to watch his presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqxhwgU3Hr0 (The presentation starts at 24:42min)
Overall, they focused on innovation, exploring the newest, most creative approaches to peacebuilding, from cutting-edge technology to the latest advancements in neuroscience and human performance. The conference highlighted out-of-the-box ideas, built new skills, and enhanced network not only with colleagues, but with people outside our usual channels, as well.