Programme description: an integral view
The condensing amount of terror attacks that is taking place all over the world forges the world to respond to groups as IS, Boko Haram and Al Shabaab. European leaders have taken actions of military nature and they also respond to the thousands of refugees coming to Europe. Next to the military interventions and diplomatic negotiations we need a civil offensive to create change. To influence the root-causes of the turmoil the civil society of the EU needs to connect to and cooperate with the MENA people.
The crosslinking of topics that drives the turmoil demand an integrative approach, looking beyond each separate issue. We have to be aware that interventions to restore rest and peace only can be successful when every theme is addressed. The question for STILLARE, as social engineers, was:
‘How to create an integral approach that addresses the drivers of the turmoil that has emerged in MENA and at the same time contributes to the decrease of threats by terrorism and increasing amounts of refugees in the West’.
The people of MENA face big challenges in all themes of life. As Europeans, being the neighbors of an important part of MENA, we can offer our help, partnership, knowledge and organizational skills. We have to respond to the threatening situation of terrorism by supporting development and strengthen the social and economic situation of the people in their and our interest. Playing an active role to initiate mayor changes will also restore our neighbor reputation that was damaged in the past.
MENA, from Waziristan to the Atlas, from Anatolia to the Lak Dera river in Somalia
How about taking an unusual viewing angle to respond to the topic? How about researching a technically speaking feasible perspective, but requiring so far unknown collaboration?
‘From Waziristan to the Atlas, from Anatolia to the Lak Dera river in Somalia, we see green strings of pearls, consisting of trees and crops. The MENA population itself turned parts of the deserts, grain of sand by grain of sand, into fertile land using a diversity of low-tech and mid-tech methods. They left their dependency of oil and created a new perspective as the granary of the world, creating jobs, food and water supplies. Doing so they addressed large scale problems like terrorism, amounts of refugees, loss of biodiversity and lack of large scale carbon sinks’.
Greening the MENA region is technically spoken a possibility. To actually do so we need to invest in collaborations between leaders, communities and professionals of both MENA and the West based on commitment to long term perspectives.
It is a challenge that can be done when we are determined and committed. Stillare and ARC want to invest in such collaboration. We already made a good start with knowledge institutes, professionals and entrepreneurs.
The MENA people only can experience the improvement of security, economy and ecology if we approach the local situation in a way that fits the local leadership structure, the local social dynamics and the local ecological possibilities. From Waziristan to the Atlas we have to engage with the people and find fitting ways to make the project a success. No one size fits all.
Starting with the work in a few communities in a two or three countries, we have to scale up fast. We will use easy to understand low-tech and mid-tech solutions and methods. These solutions are easy to maintain, repair and multiply. Public and individual education using a diversity of media will be prepared to be able to reach large groups of workers in the communities. Of course starting in countries where large amounts of refugees are part of the communities can be an important fit to questions of migration and conflict (Lebanon, Jordan, East Turkey).
To actually increase safety and security and strengthen ecology it is needed to work on a systemic approach. The MENA communities share and differ characteristics. Our approach has to fit both. We need to nudge all themes in life to influence the perspective of the people on how they want to create the future. Topics as jobs, food, water, handling their environment, organization, planning and collaboration skills, entrepreneurship and education. Greening MENA will include all of these topics and beyond that helps us to create security in the human and in the ecological domain. Also the characteristic of rural or urban community can be served. The hinterland of the big cities in MENA are suitable for greening. Guaranteeing food and water in urban areas will be an important driver for prevention of conflict.
We have to arrange our work alongside a long term vision and at the same we have to work on short term success and results to win the hearts and the minds of the people to connect with us in the local projects.
We need to nudge all themes in life to influence the perspective of the people on how they want to create the future. Topics as jobs, food, water, handling their environment, organization, planning and collaboration skills, entrepreneurship and education.
Sustainable Development Goals
A systemic approach will firmly contribute to the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.
SDG 1: No poverty
SDG 2: Zero Hunger
SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 12: Responsible consumption, production
SDG 13: Climate action
SDG 15: Life on land
Indirect intervention /spin off
SDG 5: Gender equality
SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities
SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
Important is the serious attempt to involve all the existing ecological, agricultural and water related programmes to be part of the Greening MENA programme. Of course every programme will remain to have their own goals and criteria but connecting to the bigger picture of security can be of added value. The perspective of increased security can give each programme an extra focus.