Countering Violent Conflict & Polarisation: How Can Donors Help?


In early February, around 200 global delegates from the fields of philanthropy and peacebuilding were hosted in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by SCI (Social Change Initiative) The event was also supported by Community Foundation Northern Ireland, Community Foundation Ireland, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the International Fund for Ireland, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, Forward Global and Ariadne. 

The four-day international conference examined the theme "Countering Violent Conflict & Polarisation: How Can Donors Help?". Leaders in philanthropy, government donors, locally-based funders in areas of conflict, field practitioners, and thought leaders exchanged experience and considered how donors can best help support peacebuilding and efforts to tackle polarisation 

In spite of the rise in violent conflict funding to help has failed to keep pace and its clear that many donors feel the field is too risky and complex to make a difference. Session after session provided significant examples of the ways in which funding and support can help in the early stages of conflict, when it’s at its height and when peace processes are underway. 

Coincidentally the timing of the gathering was particularly appropriate given that the Northern Ireland power-sharing government was reestablished a few days previously - a development celebrated by those in attendance. Delegates were also acutely aware of the devastation being experienced by people in Gaza and in many other parts of the world where violent conflict is raging. One of the conference panels focused on the ongoing situation in the Middle East and the role donors could and should be playing. 

SCI is hugely grateful for the insights and participation of all those who attended and in particular to the many distinguished keynote presenters who made such thoughtful contributionsWe would encourage you to take time to digest the thoughtfulness of these contributions.  

Watch here short summary video reflecting the full range of discussions that were covered – from what can be done when conflict is raging, through to different approaches to funding, the importance we must pay to addressing politization and supporting belonging and what donors need to do now and in the future. 

We covered a huge amount of ground during the conference, and we have captured here our key takeaways that emphasised the need for ongoing conversations about philanthropy's role in peacebuilding and the necessity of expanding the number and range of foundations, institutional donors, and civil society organisations in these discussions.   

Please share widely, come back to us with thoughts and ideas on how we can build on the momentum created in Belfast.   

Additional Conferences Resources: