Senior representatives from two Colombian cities have been meeting with community and Belfast City Council colleagues this week.
The visit ends today (Friday, May 17) with the first-ever Positive Peace Leadership workshop at the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute, Queen’s University delivered in partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace.
It’s the first time that the training has ever been delivered at a city level in Northern Ireland with the support of funding with British Council Northern Ireland and British Council Colombia.
Belfast, Cali and Medellin are all members of the 100 Resilient Cities network and have been working together since October 2018 to identify ways of solving shared urban problems.
Belfast Commissioner for Resilience Grainia Long said: “People might wonder what Belfast has in common with two Colombian cities – but we’re facing remarkably similar challenges in post-conflict societies. And we’re all focused on finding better ways to support community leadership, improve mental health, and give more inclusive access to skills development and jobs.
“What unites us is our focus on getting to grips with the problems and needs of our cities and then working with our city partners to make change happen. Resilience is built by strengthening our knowledge base and our ability to prepare for and recover from shocks and stresses. And by sharing experiences, we can hopefully find better ways forward.”
The visit is part of an 18 month exchange programme funded by the International Urban Cooperation (IUC) programme for sustainable urban development. They’ll look at social inclusion, urban innovation, urban innovation and inclusive economic growth as they meet with Action Mental Health, Bridge of Hope, Eastside Partnership, Girdwood Community Hub, the Innovation Factory, NI Alternatives and Shaftesbury Community Recreation Centre. They will also meet with other leaders from community and public sector leaders, tour the city and view the peace walls.
The William J. Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s University will be facilitating an interactive leadership workshop on the Positive Peace Framework in partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). The Framework is built on analysis of thousands of measures of economic and social progress across the partner cities. Its aim is to measure resilience and progress and help predict the likelihood of conflict and stability. As a result of the workshop, participants will develop project ideas to bring back to their cities.
Juan Camilo Cock, Deputy Secretary of Territories of Inclusion and Opportunities, City of Cali, Colombia said: “Our work to date shows us that simply addressing the factors that led to violence in the past will not be enough to sustain peace. To improve and extend peace, we need to involve leaders right across the city, from the grassroots up.
“Seeing the strength of community based initiatives in Belfast and working together to develop the Positive Peace Leadership programme has given us a fresh perspective on the challenges we face in Colombia. We can only stand to gain from working together towards the same goals, when we bring the same levels of energy and commitment to improve quality of life in our cities.”
Belfast is also developing trade and cultural links with Colombia thanks to Invest NI and British Council Northern Ireland.
For more information on Resilient Belfast, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/resilientbelfast