The challenges of migration from war-zones are taking central stage in policy and public debates within Europe and in Sweden. The current humanitarian crisis in the Middle East is not a regional problem but an emergency with global implications. In Sweden and Germany, the most open and welcoming countries thus far, the arrival of asylum seekers is triggering domestic tensions, and is already creating polarization. We believe urgent actions are needed from all actors, including universities.
The initiative “Post Conflict Futures” is based on taking a long term perspective to the challenges of migration, recovery and reconstruction. Although we do not know how the overall political contexts will evolve, we do know that future structures will need to be both socially and environmentally sustainable. The idea is therefore to convene and facilitate creative spaces, where newly arrived professionals and peers from Sweden participate in collaborative exchanges to co-create and reflect on sustainable future pathways, both in host countries and conflict regions.
A focus will lie on infrastructure options, in a very wide sense, including societal implications for resilience, social cohesion, economic recovery, food security, public health and gender equality.
The initiative has three inter-related overall objectives:
1) Contribute to seeing newly arrived academics as an opportunity;
2) Deliver new learning and networking opportunities for newly arrived academics; and
3) Facilitate the creation of long term visions, strategies and research environments for post-conflict rebuilding.
The work in the initiative is anchored around the use of two powerful tools for collective thinking: Scenarios and Visioning Labs. These tools enable to work proactively and plan for action in high-risk contexts characterized by uncertainty and sudden changes.
Sweden is in a particularly privileged position to take part in research efforts for sustainable post-conflict recovery and reconstruction, since the country has already welcomed the largest number of migrants per capita in Europe. Sweden is additionally well placed with regard to green technologies, and several strong centres at Lund University are oriented towards sustainability.
Post Conflict Futures was initiated by researchers at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics IIIEE and the Centre for Middles Eastern Studies CMES at Lund University.
The Lead coordinator on the initiative is Tareq Emtairah; former Director of the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Cairo and currently a senior research fellow at the IIIEE.
Scenario building competency is provided by Ulrich Goluke, the former head of the scenario unit at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
During autumn 2016 three scenario workshops were held with Syrian academics on possible futures for Syria, and the scenario work was presented at the Swedish Institute in Stockholm in January 2017. The Post-Conflict Futures project will be also be part of Lund University Sustainability week in May 15-21, 2017. For more information on the project, please contact Helen Avery at the CMES.