The ICCO Alliance started a process of change five years ago in which key elements are a programmatic approach in which we try to influence systems rather than supporting individual projects, a sharing of responsibilities and a decentralization of ICCO's work to the regions. The South Asia regional conference on food security and conflict transformation was for me how these changes can be put to practice in the South Asia region.
The interaction and level of discussion during the first day made clear to me that South Asian civil society organizations are strong and definitely have the potential to take their work to a more advanced and strategic level with a matching increasing impact. Yet their are also still questions, challenges and uncertainties that can not simply be answered by the ICCO Alliance. It requires vision and above all courage from both members of the ICCO Alliance and their partners to develop new roads.
During the first day of the conference some very wise remarks were made about the existing divisions in the South Asia region. Yes there are political, ethnic, economic and religious divisions that do trouble the relations between governments in the region. But, as it was stressed, civil society organizations are well placed to overcome such divisions and point at the strengths of plurality. As they do not represent their governments they can transcend borders and come up with strong visions that reflect the will of the people to bring peace, harmony and respect for differences.
If such wisdom is to continue to dominate the conference, I'm very confident that the conference will prepare the ground for more successful cooperation within countries and within the region.
Projectleader Business Plan of the ICCO Alliance