Thematic Tracks

GPW20 Thematic Tracks 

Overall GPW20 theme: "Rebuilding trust after disruption:vPathways to reset international cooperation"

As Geneva Peace Week 2020 is fully online, attendees are welcome to participate in ‘Live Sessions’ and to engage with the new GPW ‘Digital Series’. The Live Sessions and Digital Series for Geneva Peace Week have been organised into 8 thematic tracks. To find out more about each GPW20 thematic track, please read the information on each of the tracks below. You can also view the available Live Sessions and Digital Series content for each track by clicking on the ‘Learn More’ button below. 


Harnessing the economy for peace

This track recognised that the work of peace extends to all sectors, with the private sector having a key role to play in mitigating conflict and enhancing prospects for peace in frontier markets. Business actors can be key brokers of trust, agents for employment and trade, who generate peace dividends and greater prosperity. But they can also represent risks in already contentious conflict systems as large-scale investments or other corporate engagements affect power balances or the dynamics of existing environmental and social conflicts.

This curated thematic process during GPW20 will bring together the substantive inputs proposed by several session organisers in order to identify innovative practices and new research findings. The process also aims to gather the elements for a prospective policy agenda and ideas for a potential collaborative action in 2021. At the end of GPW20, this track aims to have brought together a group of thought and practice leaders in this field as a foundation for further curated activity in 2021.

Horizon scan for cyber peace

The importance of cyber operations, artificial intelligence, and digital technology in the field of peace and security is growing exponentially, with big impacts on how peacebuilding can be conceived of and supported in the current era. The implications for trust in interpersonal relations, political institutions, international legal frameworks and social media narratives are all being affected by advances in digital technology. GPW20 sessions will examine evidence and good practices on digital diplomacy and cyberpeace, and how international organisations, civil society and the private sector can collectively collaborate towards a cyberspace that contributes to peaceful outcomes.

Building a culture of peace

The ways societies and individuals know about peace and security are deeply embedded in social, cultural and education systems, as are the ways we conceive of cooperation and competition, and how we contest or resolve conflicting interests. The global pandemic has offered a unique opportunity to consider how these systems—and the skills and knowledge prioritized within them—might be updated and adapted to meet the actual needs of contemporary society. Through storytelling, theatre, films, historical reflections and media workshops, GPW20 sessions will consider how critical reflection and thoughtful engagement with public and private narratives can be at the frontline of resetting global and interpersonal approaches to building peace.

What works in peacebuilding

There is a significant and growing base of knowledge and evidence about the practice of peacebuilding. GPW20 will showcase innovative and effective approaches that are proving to have a positive impact on peace from a wide range of geographical contexts and across a diversity of sectors. From brain trusts, to engagement with gang leaders, religious actors, youth activists to neighbourhood-level entrepreneurs, and beyond, sessions will disseminate proven peacebuilding innovations across the world to contribute to a more systemic uptake of relevant and effective practices that can have a greater impact on peace. 

A new vision for peacemaking

The challenges of effective peace mediation and peacemaking in today’s complex geopolitical context are increasing, as formerly espoused assumptions about the rules of war and peace are no longer tenable. The realities of contemporary conflict, including gray zones between state-and non-state actors, blurred lines between the licit and illicit, the securitisation of political agendas and the politicisation of international law, have made the field of peace mediation and peace making especially fraught. GPW20 will examine the dilemmas and opportunities facing the international multilateral system and share visions on new ways for remaking peace.

How to build peace

GPW20 will include a series of workshops and skills transfer sessions to support peacebuilding professionals. The crucial work of non-violent actions and skills in countering hate speech and racism will be shared to help peacebuilders address in their daily work some of the most pressing social and political issues of our times. Opportunities to practice the usually overlooked yet essential skills of empathy, listening, communication and ethical leadership will be offered to support in tangible ways the ways in which trust can be built and reinforced.

Peacebuilding in a COVID-19 era and beyond

GPW20 will examine how peacebuilding has been affected by the COVID-pandemic, and how peacebuilding actors are contributing to shaping the critical reimagining and reprioritising of our societies. On the frontlines, peacebuilders have responded to COVID-19-related peacebuilding challenges with tactical innovation, by stepping up to address urgent humanitarian needs, and by holding governments accountable. GPW20 will reflect on how peacebuilding approaches can be adapted and better-integrated into local, national and international responses to the pandemic and post-pandemic era.

Environment, climate, conflict, and peace

This year, the final day of Geneva Peace Week, 6 November, will be devoted entirely to topics in environmental peacebuilding, including the prominent amplification of voices of peacebuilders around the world. The day consists of a series of sessions, conversations, and trainings, culminating in a Closing Ceremony devoted to impact and policy. Other subtopics include the role of conservation in environmental peacebuilding to the development of digital technology and early warning systems in climate risk assessment and security frameworks. View the event homepage, linked above, to learn more.