Annual Report 2018: The challenges of our time

In my life-time there has never been a greater need, across the world, for people to work for democracy and peace building.

When we started CDPB our focus was largely on Northern Ireland – what we had learned, and what we needed to do to complete the Peace Process. It has been exciting and inspirational to work with colleagues in CDPB, especially our remarkable CEO, Eva Grosman, as well as with friends and co-workers in the public, private and community sectors at home and right across the world. As you will see from even the briefest glance through the pages of this report, CDPB has been active from the Middle East to Latin America, throughout Europe, with colleagues in the United States, the United Kingdom and of course North and South of the border in Ireland.

In all these many activities we have seen much to confirm and develop both our understandings of conflict and violence, and also what we might call ‘civil paths to peace’. However, as I noted in last year’s report, we face huge challenges. How can we contribute to getting devolution in Northern Ireland back up and running? What is it possible to do to improve the atmosphere and attitudes in our divided community? Where can we find the best ideas for achieving an outcome to Brexit that takes us forward and not backward on the island of Ireland and in the United Kingdom? These are tough questions, and the answers involve everyone paying some kind of price, but with the chance of enormous community benefit.

You will see in this report an extraordinary range and level of activity. Some of our work, like Music Unite, has built on the methods and ideas that we have been using for a few years now, albeit with a number of new partners and new types of music. In other areas we have been exploring novel ways of understanding what can be done to capitalize on the extraordinary pace of technological development. There has rightly been much focus in the media on the threats from social media to personal privacy and freedom, and the proper functioning of democracy, and we are very conscious of these challenges, but we also believe that these technologies can bring new options and opportunities for democracy and peace building and we will continue to work on this in the upcoming year.

In any report of the past year I must of course draw attention to the cooperation with the British Council and others on the Peace and Beyond Conference in Belfast in April 2018 marking the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. This was a week of amazing events with real political significance and impact and we hope to work further with British Council in the next twelve months.

As we indicated last year the Board of CDPB has decided to engage more closely with some of our partners outside Ireland and especially the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at based at Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford and already I look forward to being able to report next year on the new ways in which we are continuing to fulfil our commitment to democracy and peace building.

There are few things that are more challenging, or more worthwhile and necessary, and few colleagues more inspiring to work with than those in CDPB.

Why not join us and make your contribution?

John, Lord Alderdice

New tech, prosperity and peace @ Digital DNA

CDPB are delighted to host in partnership with Build Up a session on “New tech, prosperity and peace” at the annual Digital DNA conference in St. George’s Market, Belfast.

We will explore how creative industries and technological innovation in private, public and community sectors are re-shaping economic organisation, and how these can be leveraged to create more equitable and peaceful societies.

The panellists will include Michaela Ledesma, Build Up Program Director, Tim Brundle, Director of Research and Impact at Ulster University and John Peto, Director of Education, Nerve Centre. The discussion will be chaired by CDPB CEO Eva Grosman.

Over two days, Digital DNA – the most valuable & energetic, business & technology event in Ireland – will allow you to engage with 3,000 delegates from across a wide range of industries. Let over 150 of our speakers inspire you with their eclectic knowledge across our eight key themes: Marketing, Data, Security, FinTech, DevOps, Innovation, Tech for Good and Startups. More information:

Ulster University in partnership with Build Up and CDPB to host Build Peace in October 2018

Ulster University in partnership with Build Up and the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, will host the fifth international Build Peace conference.

Taking place from 29-31 October, the conference brings together practitioners, activists, academics, policy makers, artists and technologists from across the world to share experience and ideas on using technology, arts and other innovations for peacebuilding and conflict transformation.
The conference will bring together over 300 international delegates and cover three key themes including creativity and reconciliation, inclusion and social cohesion and sustainability and resilience. Across the three days there will be a series of short talks, dialogues, workshops and interactive exhibitions.

Professor Duncan Morrow, Director of Community Engagement at Ulster University said:
“Peace and conflict reconciliation is a key research area at Ulster University. We are very pleased to be a part of this conference which brings together thought leaders from across the world, to look at how we can use the creative industries to build peace and transform our societies. As Northern Ireland’s civic university our campuses are enshrined in their local communities. We are proud to produce globally significant research with local relevance. This conference is an excellent opportunity to reflect on peace and conflict innovations and with the recent celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, showcase learning from Northern Ireland.”

Michaela Ledesma, Co-founder of the Build Peace conference and Build Up Programs Director, said:
“We’re excited to celebrate the 5th year of the Build Peace conference in Belfast this October and, in particular, to explore how innovation is and can empower communities to address key economic challenges. We often hear that Build Peace is a different type of event – one that puts the focus on people who are doing the challenging, long-term work to transform their societies. We warmly thank the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, Ulster University, and Visit Belfast for their support, and look forward to a rich exchange between change-makers in Northern Ireland and our global community from 60+ countries at Build Peace 2018.”

Eva Grosman, CEO of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building said:
“We are absolutely delighted that Build Peace will take place in Ulster University’s Belfast campus this October. Following successful events in the US, Cyprus, Switzerland and Colombia, it is now time for Northern Ireland to showcase some remarkable projects, to learn and exchange ideas with colleagues from across the globe and to explore how technology, innovation and creativity can re-shape the economic opportunities, economic organisation and economic power that impact how we live together in peace. We are truly grateful for the support from Ulster University and Visit Belfast in securing this significant conference coming to Belfast this year and look forward to developing further partnerships in public, private and community sectors.”

For further information and to book your place at the Peace Build conference please visit