Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Caux Foundation hosted some 1,200 visitors this summer in its International Conference Centre at Caux, above Montreux. Sessions on multiculturalism, human security, business ethics and training modules in change-making and peace-building were held from 1 July to 8 August. Over a hundred delegates of the Initiatives of Change international network, from 42 countries, are now meeting in Caux for their annual Global Assembly.

Kicking off the summer, the ‘Learning to Live in a Multicultural World’ conference brought together participants to exchange on good practices on cultural and religious diversity and the challenges for civil society. On 8 July, the ‘Official Day’ (or open day) saw Micheline Calmy-Rey, former President of the Confederation, deliver a strong speech on human security and the involvement of Switzerland to move this question forward on the global agenda. This speech preceded the start of the 5th Caux Forum for Human Security, convened by its Founder and Chair, ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun. Issues of just governance, sustainability, inclusive economics, intercultural dialogue and memory healing were addressed by experts and participants, a significant number of them from regions currently in crisis, underlying the urgency of dialogue and trust building. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave an inspiring and comprehensive lecture on the reconciliation process between Australia and its indigenous population. A full day was dedicated to land degradation and desertification with the participation of the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Luc Gnacadja. The conference was reminded of the words of Wangari Maathai: “In a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy and peace.”

In mid-July, the ‘Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy’ (TIGE) conference featured guest speakers such as Lady Susan Rice, managing director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland and Margaret Heffernan, entrepreneur and noted author. The week featured discussions with experts and grass-roots players on sustainable development, responsible farming and food industry, Corporate Social Responsibility and the financial crisis, and included the launch of a World Values Day.

From 25 to 31 July, the conference centre hosted a week on dialogue and discovery to explore the vital link between the personal and the global. ‘The Dynamics of a Being a Change-maker’ closed the summer with a week of training. Restoring trust through dialogue is a much needed skill in today’s divided world.

Initiatives of Change International is currently holding its Global Assembly under the leadership of its president, Dr Omnia Marzouk. After evaluating the past action of IofC, this assembly will decide on priorities and guidelines for action in IofC’s three areas of focus: peace and social cohesion, good governance, economic justice and environmental sustainability.

The 2013 International Caux Summer Conferences will take place from 29 June to 11 August.

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