Rising 19 Global Peace Forum

Thank you to Rotarian Paul Beedham who recently attended the Rising 19 Global Peace Forum and shares his experiences here.

The Rising 19 Global Peace Forum was the latest in the series of conferences organised by the collaboration between Coventry University’s CTPSR (Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations), Coventry Cathedral and Coventry City Council. Seven keynote speakers, 12 seminars (running simultaneously in pairs) and a number of other sessions and activities were put together under the overall theme of ‘The Ecosystem of Peace’. The event was timed to line up with the 79th anniversary of the bombing of Coventry Cathedral, allowing it to feature the incredible ‘Where Light Falls’ show put on by Historic England. An earlier phase (25th-27th October) had used St Paul’s Cathedral in London as a backdrop, so this time it was the turn of Coventry’s Old Cathedral ruins to be used as the canvas of an amazing light show – while the words of poet Jane Commane took listeners through the experience of the destruction and subsequent reaction that led to the Fellowship of the Cross of Nails and to Coventry being the most twinned City in the world. The Church Times included a write up on Rising 19, with a specific focus on ‘Where Light Falls’ – https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/22-november/news/uk/coventry-s-heroism-will-continue-to-inspire-us-peace-forum-is-told

‘The Ecosystem of Peace’ provided a theme that encapsulated human migration, climate change, faith and belief, communication, education and poverty – with multiple speakers and workshops to explore different facets of each. The MiFriendly Cities scheme was used throughout – a very effective partnership between Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton Councils, focusing on welcoming migrants to the West Midlands and supporting them to utilise the skills and experience they had brought with them, with amazing results in launching social enterprises – one of which provided the catering on the first morning.

Julia Gillard – former Prime Minister of Australia – was inspirational in her keynote ‘Leadership and Education in Peaceful Communities’ – proudly describing how her party in Australia had been able to raise the level of female representation to almost 50% through their use of quotas, as well as highlighting the proven benefits of making sure education was available to girls in all areas of the world. Dane Waters gave a thorough, if predictable, answer to the question ‘Is the current President of the United States a threat to world peace?’ – a clear ‘yes’ in case you were wondering!

Environmental Challenges were covered by a panel including the BBC’s Environment Analyst, Roger Harrabin, which highlighted the issues, followed a day later by an incredible keynote by Paul Allen from the Centre for Alternative Technologies. Paul presented a detailed proposal that had been 10 years in its construction – providing a package of initiatives able to achieve a ‘Zero Carbon Britain’.

Steve Killelea established the ‘The Charitable Foundation’ over 20 years ago, one of the largest private overseas aid organisations in Australia, has had two Nobel Peace Prize nominations and came to speak about the Global Peace Index. The GPI ranks 163 countries using 23 measures of ‘peacefulness’. Iceland has been top of the list for 10 years and the USA is not too happy with its 128th position. The fascinating element of Steve’s talk was how a Rotary Club in Uganda had taken his model of 23 measures and used it to provide focus areas for a project aimed at improving education in the rural community – with some fantastic result.

The closing keynote was given by Helle Thornin-Schmidt – former Prime Minister of Denmark and co-chair of the 2017 World Economic Meeting in Davos (the year she was named one of the world’s greatest leaders by Fortune magazine). Helle has CEO of Save the Children International for three years and focused her talk on child poverty – based on her direct experiences in Yemen, Syria and the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Rising 19 provided an amazing three days of highly inspirational content, generated by some incredible speakers from across the globe. As always, the hardest thing is trying to get across the positive message to those who were not there, but I can certainly recommend trying to take the time out to attend Rising 20, where the theme will be ‘The Culture of Peace’ to tie in with its host area being the City of Culture for 2021.

Paul Beedham paul@beedham.me.uk

Bedworth Rotary President 2012-14 District 1060 Foundation Chairman 2016-19 sfipp