Colombia has suffered cycles of violent conflict for close to a century. Polarization and resentment between former combatants and victims of violence are deeply entrenched, as the referendum on the Peace Process, public opinion surveys, and ICRD's reconciliation meetings, and reintegration conferences clearly verify. There is no simple solution. The solution requires an integrated response that draws on the best thought, will, and resources in the communities, and requires difficult conversations, measurable impacts and time to sink into the culture.
In light of this, the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy (ICRD) and Climate Prosperity Enterprise Solutions, LLC (CPES) propose a project to support the Colombian Peace Process and the reincorporation of former FARC combatants and their supporters - whose numbers are estimated around 40,000 men, women and children - into conflict-impacted society through the creation of a shared, sustainable living community centered around a program of renewable energy production and collaborative entrepreneurship.
This project will amplify ICRD's prior work in Colombia, which has already made major advances toward strategic program objectives in reconciliation between former combatants and victims of violence. Dozens of community meetings have been conducted in three conflict-impacted regions of Colombia: Medellin (and the Department of Antioquia); Montes de Maria (in the Departments of Sucre and Bolivar); and the northern area of the Department of Cauca. These have established community collaboration through context and conflict assessments for understanding reconciliation and reintegration needs and concerns, as well as created a network for values-based reconciliation work.
ICRD has engaged with former combatants in and out of the prison system, and conducted formal training on reconciliation practice with a core group of women of faith who have conducted replica trainings for over 300 women community leaders in eight conflict-impacted regions of the country.
Similarly, the CPES model for a sustainable solar community has been under development for seven years, starting with a Feasibility Study financed by Lockheed Martin in Indonesia; is currently under development by the Kenana Sugar Company, the largest agricultural enterprise in Sudan; is under study at the World Bank Group for application in Africa; and is in the Feasibility Study planning stage of several investment groups and corporations.
ICRD and CPES have been brought together by their many mutual supporters, and believe that integrating their missions in this one project is of great value. ICRD’s success at facilitating collaboration in values-based conflict resolution is holistically complemented by CPES’s success at promoting values such as rural modernity, prosperity, sustainability, community, housing, enterprises and ownership. Peacebuilding is ultimately greatly served by sustainable, community-based economic development and prosperity - particularly where the benefits are mutually shared across previously divided identity groups. A model where that economic opportunity is locally-generated and collaboratively sustained offers a uniquely strong form of relationship building for former adversaries.