Thursday, November 8, 2012

Training with Farmers' Dialogue facilitators in Rwanda (Photo: Claude Bourdin)For over 80 years, Initiatives of Change’s work of inspiring people to make a difference, has led to some remarkable initiatives in trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living. In 2012, these became official areas of focus.

Following a comprehensive process to include individual ideas from 50+ countries where IofC operates, the movement adopted a Framework for Common Action, which aims to sharpen IofC’s focus into more effective, consistent and credible action as a global team.

IofC works to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves, in order to realize a just, peaceful and sustainable world to which everyone, responding to the call of conscience, makes their unique contribution. With the personal approach as the bedrock, IofC will take action to offer solutions in these fields.

Dr Omnia Marzouk, President of Initiatives of Change International said that IofC could draw on its rich and diverse track record to show the vital link between personal change, local impact, sustainability and global outreach. ‘We can draw on personal stories from a range of changemakers and show grassroots examples from different countries and different training programmes to sharpen our focus,’ she said. ‘This will also enable our conference centres in Caux (Switzerland) and in Asia Plateau (India) to facilitate creative partnerships with other organizations to enhance our effectiveness and impact in the areas of trust building, ethical leadership and sustainability.’

Peace and social cohesion by building trust and reconciliation across divides

South Sudan Vice President, Dr Riek Machar meeting village development leader Popat Rao Pawar at the Making Democracy Real conference, 2012, Asia Plateau.Some of IofC’s most significant stories concern trustbuilding and reconciliation – particularly the work to rebuild Europe after WWII in which the conferences in Caux, Switzerland, played a major part. IofC also played a role in helping Japan move towards reconciliation with her neighbours in Asia and the South Pacific from the 1950s onwards. More recently, IofC has been invited to help support reconciliation in the world’s newest country, South Sudan, after decades of war. A small, but growing team is in place to support dialogue efforts in that country.

In another major African conflict zone, IofC has worked for the past decade in the Great Lakes region of Africa helping to build trust and reconciliation – including significant accompanying of government and rebel groups in Burundi on their path towards peace. IofC also continues grassroots efforts in a number of other places including work in racial reconciliation through Hope in the Cities in the USA and through Creators of Peace, which aims to engage women in their role as creators of peace at every level of society in over 30 countries.

Good governance at every level by developing a leadership culture based on moral integrity, compassion and selfless service

Heart of Effective Leadership training programmeFrom leadership in the boardroom to the pressing issue of personal governance, IofC recommits itself to take on the challenge of ethical leadership. Honest assessments of personal motivation and courageous changes in personal behaviour have long been at the heart of IofC’s core philosophy and methodology.

IofC will be taking this forward particularly through Asia Plateau, the conference centre in India that trains over 4,000 people each year, with courses like the ‘Heart of Effective Leadership’ and conferences like ‘Making Democracy Real’. In Kenya, a team is using a well established IofC-developed method called the Clean Election Campaign to inspire a critical mass of people to commit themselves to neither give nor accept bribes during elections, and to vote on the basis of character rather than tribal allegiance. Meanwhile, in January the Workshop for Africa (a spinoff of the Harambee Leadership Programme) will kick start in South Africa by training leaders to work on issues of good governance. And in Eastern Europe IofC’s Foundations for Freedom programme continues to train young people to be ethical leaders in their communities.

Economic justice and environmental sustainability by inspiring transformation of motives and behaviour.

Grampari, IofC's centre for rural ecology and leadership in IndiaIn recent years the Global Financial Crisis and the issues such as land degradation have brought economics and environment back to centre stage. Although less featured, IofC’s work has touched both the business world and the environment. For decades, IofC led major campaigns to bridge gaps between management and labour in Germany, England and the US. Environmental efforts in Asia have included reforestation and anti-pollution campaigns.

Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy is an ongoing programme each summer at Caux and it continues to take shape through Caux Initiatives for Business, which has given a particular focus to the financial sector in London over the past years. Grampari, a rural development initiative in India, continues to grow and deliver holisitic solutions for rural living, particularly in water management and sanitation. For the past two years, policymakers and grassroots activists have met in Caux to partner on the issue of land degradation and will do so again over a 4-day summit this summer.

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