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. We believe urgent actions are needed from all actors, including universities.
The initiative “Post Conflict Futures” commenced in Autumn 2015, at a time when many Syrians were arriving in Sweden. Rather than focusing the immediate challenges the situation entailed, the initiative was based on taking a long-term perspective to the challenges of migration, recovery and reconstruction. In situations such as the Syrian conflict, 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 was therefore to convene and facilitate creative spaces, where newly arrived professionals and peers from Sweden could participate in collaborative exchanges to co-create and reflect on sustainable future pathways, both in host countries and conflict regions. A focus concerned 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 aimed to raise awareness in Sweden about the opportunity that the arrival of Syrians constituted; to deliver new learning and networking opportunities for newly arrived academics; and facilitate the creation of long-term visions, strategies and research environments for post-conflict rebuilding. The work was 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, considering the,wide range of models for planning sustainable infrastructure and state support for green technologies. 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 was Tareq Emtairah from the IIIEE and former Director of the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Cairo. At CMES, the work was coordinated by Helen Avery and Khaldoon Mourad. Scenario building competency was 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. A final Syria 2040 workshop was held in December 2017. For more information on the project, please contact Helen Avery at the CMES.