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Peace = Business? or Business = Peace?

There is a close link between social stability and entrepreneurship. Business, especially in its innovative form, is an essential link for peace. One of the basic conditions to succeed as an entrepreneur is political and economic stability. High unemployment can create social unrest and often results in internal and external conflicts that are doomed to escalate. The stability and volatility for conflict do depend to a big extend on employment rate.

In order to ensure peace, entrepreneurs able to handle not only the entrepreneurial side of their business but also the negotiation, mediation and conflict resolution side, are an essential component for stability.

In recent studies the International Peace Institute but also the ILO (International Labour Office), come to the conclusion that the sustaining peace needs an ecosystem that can simultaneously prevent the outbreak of violent conflict and proactively foster peaceful societies. Economic opportunities are an important component of this ecosystem; the inequitable distribution of resources, economic deprivation, exclusion, and joblessness have all been well-documented as root causes of conflict both nationally and globally. It is essential that a peaceful and conducive environment for entrepreneurship and thus employment is created.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers an effective blueprint for inclusive national development policies that are universally applicable, that “leave no one behind,” and that contribute to sustaining peace. Entrepreneurship, is not only critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 on decent work and economic growth, but will also lead toward the twin goals of prosperity and peace.

The Institute for Economic and Peace (IEP) has shown that business needs peace and peace needs business to be sustainable. In order for business to thrive 8 conditions need to be addressed.

The IEP calls them the 8 pillars for sustainable peace:

1. Sound Business Environment: peaceful societies go hand in hand with factors that encourage trade.

2. Free Flow of Information: greater availability of information can lead to more market integration. Available open information on taxes, trade agreements, employment conditions are key to stability.

3. Well-Functioning Government: which is closely linked to low levels of corruptions.

4. Low Levels of Corruptions: means having effective courts which is a major contributor to confidence building amongst entrepreneurs. High level of corruption, low transparency, local bureaucracy are bottlenecks, as are unfair competition.

5. High Levels of Human Capital: means not just a lot of cheap workers available, but a healthy and educated population. Competitive advantages are often boiling down to who has the best talents. Furthermore, conflict encourages brain drain,

6. Equitable Distribution of Resources: A country with a large middle class and a narrow gap towards high- and lower-income population brings a good stability. High-level inequality is related to higher levels of crime and theft, but also to dissatisfaction and volatility.

7. Acceptance of the Rights of Others: Taking into consideration all groups in a country ensures greater workforce and creates fewer marginalised groups. This also means the right to have trade unions, inclusion of minorities, equal opportunities.

8. Good Relations with neighbours: This refers not only to the relations between states but also other factors such as ethical or cultural integration, fostering trade and services.

Positive Peace creates an environment enabling vocational training, co-creation, innovation and economic development bring a different focus to a region. Thus, innovative entrepreneurship is a cornerstone to the development of a vibrant local private sector, which, in addition to creating jobs and economic opportunities, entrepreneurship helps to diffuse potential conflict situations. Entrepreneurs, keen to protect their businesses from the instability brought on by violence, can be convincing peace brokers. And in case of a post-conflict situation or of a major refugee challenge, entrepreneurship brings a source of income and eventually helps to reconstruct a region giving a ‘raison d’être’ and dignity to people.

Having said this, absence of conflict does not mean peace, and full employment and stability does not mean absence of conflict. We need think also of democracy and good governance. However, a good economy is mostly linked with stability at large.

This and more will be discussed during our session at the Geneva Peace Week which is held at the Maison de la Paix and the United Na

tions from 4 – 8 November.

Looking at best practices in Africa, Middle East and Asia where micro-enterprises lift people out of poverty and grow into Small/Medium Enterprises (SME’s) contributing to overall economic growth in an area, we will explore the commonalities of these programmes as vectors of peace. In this session we will examine the interaction and positive examples where entrepreneurship contributes to stability and peace.

Peace’preneurs – the role of entrepreneurship for social stability and peace

Geneva Peace Week – 8 November 2019 at the UN

Session held together with UNHCR, Waterpreneurs and other important partners

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