The city of Kauswagan in The Philippines has won the 2016 UCLG Peace Prize. The jury concluded that their project “From arms to farms” is an excellent example of courageous leadership, combining initiatives for peacebuilding and local economic development. The winner received a cheque of 20,000 EURO.
The five nominated local authorities all presented very creative projects to promote peace in their communities. Confronted with violent conflict, they practice different approaches to reïntegrate former combatants, prevent youth criminality, educate citizens in conflict resolution and non-violent communication and involve the community more in local peace initiatives.
The project Meditele a la Paz (´Think about peace´) by the city of Cali in Colombia invested in training of youth at young ages to prevent them from joining violent youth gangs. They also actively involved mothers to raise awareness on peace issues, and trained social workers and mediators to promote peace in the community.
Kauswagen in The Philippines combined food security with peacebuilding efforts: “From arms to farms”. Kauswagen put a lot of effort to integrate rebel returnees in the local community, a.o. by engaging them in organic farming and letting their children go to school.
In the remote area of Shabunda in the DR Congo, local peace committees were created in all villages. In these committees, citizens can now express their needs and wishes and are responded to by the local authorities.
In Canoas in Brazil, Peace Territorities have been appointed where different activities are implemented to address the root causes of violence and crime. By using technology (such as ‘shotspotter’ and security cameras), community policing and education of young people in mediation and conflict resolution, the number of homiced decreased with 34%.
The town of Palmira, Colombia, used the love for music of the Colombian people in the project ‘Your Voice is Peace’. The music competition has raised awareness with young people on te importance of living peacefully together.
The jury consisted of Mrs Aisa Kirabo, dep. Director of UN Habitat, Mr Rafael Grass, former president of the Catalan Institute for Peace and Mrs. Janny Vlietstra, former mayor and member of the first chamber of The Netherlands. The UCLG Peace Prize is supported by the city of Bogota, VNG International and PAX. In his address at the UCLG Congress, Dion van de Berg of PAX stated that the international community is focusing too much on state stability in stead of security for citizens. For the security of citizens, local authorities play a crucial role.