Rotary Great Britain & Ireland successfully held their online, open-to-all ‘We Are Peacebuilders’ seminar, allowing everyone in attendance to discover ways they can contribute to achieving peace both locally and across the globe.
It was an opportunity to see how all of Rotary’s areas of focus can be used to provide the optimal environment for a peaceful society to flourish.
The keynote speaker for the event was Steve Killelea – entrepreneur, philanthropist and Founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
During over a decade’s worth of philanthropy, few have come to develop the understanding of peace as much as Steve as shown by him being recognised as one of the World’s 100 Most Influential People.
What we can see is that peace, especially positive peace, describes an optimal environment in which human potential can flourish.”
His knowledge of peace was on full display during the seminar straight after he was introduced by the event’s host Janine Birtwistle – Guernsey Rotarian and Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention Specialist for Rotary GB&I.
He immediately broke down ways that peace could actually be measured, stating: “What I realised as I moved on is how profoundly connected economics and peace are. We can see that if we just look at the Ukraine war today.
“When countries increase in peace, so does their per capita income and so does their economic growth.
“More importantly than that, when we start to look at the qualities which create peace, we also create the other things in society which we think are really important…better performance on ecological measures, better performance on wellbeing and happiness, better performance in inclusion and also better performance in a whole range of developmental parameters.
“What we can see is that peace, especially positive peace, describes an optimal environment in which human potential can flourish.”
This model of ‘positive peace’ was formed by the IEP as a way of quantifying the attitudes and structures needed to create a peaceful society.
The concept was explained further by event co-host and IEP Director of Partnerships Charles Allen, who stated: “Having an understanding of what it is – what are the factors that create peaceful communities, peaceful countries – is a greater way to create transformational change and a stronger way to build peaceful communities and peaceful countries.”
Rotary International Vice President Nicki Scott was also co-hosting the event and took the chance to reassert Rotary’s commitment to creating peace across the globe.
Nicki said: “Peace is absolutely at the centre of all that we do in Rotary. Our original mission was defined as providing service to others, to promote integrity, advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through our fellowship of business professional and community leaders.
“I think it’s so important to define leadership as something that isn’t about titles – it’s a mindset, and it’s a mindset of people who really want to make a difference in the world and take action.”
There were a variety of inspiring speakers over the course of the seminar from both within and outside of Rotary such as Dr. Phil Gittins – Education Director for anti-war organisation World BEYOND War.
People also had the opportunity to pose questions to Steve and Nicki during the event, with topics raging from mental health, war, how to create positive discourse and what we can do individually to create a peaceful society.
The growing sentiment amongst everyone taking part in the seminar was that to filter peace throughout our communities, it needs to start from within.
Nicki Scott rounded off the event by saying: “If we are ambassadors of emanating peace, it’s very hard to feel angry when you’re smiling!
“Let’s bring that warmth, understanding, compassion and empathy for our fellow human race wherever we go.”
If you missed out on the seminar a recording of it will be available on the Rotary GB&I YouTube channel soon.