Andrew Gilmour reflects on a year none of us will soon forget.
It was an honour to take the helm last spring of the prestigious Berghof Foundation – all the more so as the institution was approaching the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1971, and at a time when the peacebuilding world was (and is) facing profound challenges.
Unexpected challenges were plentiful in 2020. In addition to the pandemic, which caused hardship around the world and forced us – like so many others – to adapt our ways of working, we witnessed crises in many places where we are active. In 2020, fighting broke out in Ethiopia; Yemen and Afghanistan saw a surge of targeted killings; and colleagues in Lebanon were injured by the explosion in Beirut’s harbour. Team members in Nagorno-Karabakh had to flee their homes during heavy fighting and then – showing extraordinary resilience and commitment – re-started their work within days, thereby helping to deescalate tensions and calls for revenge.
Thanks to our highly qualified and committed staff, our local and international partners, and the support of our donors, we can look back proudly at a year full of key project achievements and progress, despite the obstacles. In 2020, we worked in or did research on over 30 countries and territories, ranging from Afghanistan and Yemen, to Ethiopia and Somalia, to Georgia and Germany. I am pleased to present some of these highlights here.
Berghof’s activities combine a wide range of approaches that is unique in peacebuilding.
Our conflict transformation work is conducted in three separate but complementary pillars (peace support on the ground; global learning and peace education; and research), with the result that Berghof’s activities combine a wide range of approaches that is unique in peacebuilding.
Whether offering targeted support to lay the groundwork for peace talks such as with Afghanistan, collaborating with partners to research community resilience to extremism in over a dozen countries, or working with young people on an interactive toolkit against conspiracy theories, Berghof continued to adapt its approach and support to fit highly divergent conflict settings and a changing global context.
Given the tense situation in many parts of the world, Berghof’s work to help local actors and partners move away from violence is more needed than ever. To ensure we rise to the challenge, we reviewed our strategic focal areas in 2020. We are building on our strengths and core fields of activity while establishing new partnerships and expanding our focus in six additional areas, including climate change, gender and protest movements.
In all of these additional areas, as well as in our more established fields of work, our approach for 2020 and beyond has been to significantly increase the breadth and depth of our collaboration with a wide variety of local and international partners.
Working together with our partners, we seek to strengthen the efforts to promote peaceful alternatives to violent conflict around the world. On behalf of the entire Berghof team, I welcome your interest and support.
Andrew Gilmour, Executive Director