2009-2014: The Founding and Consolidation of PeaceNexus

PeaceNexus was born from the complementary visions of its two founders: Anne Gloor and Hansjörg Wyss. Anne Gloor wanted to connect peacebuilding actors, facilitate dialogue among them, and enhance their capacities to prevent conflict; Hansjörg Wyss aimed to harness the power of philanthropy to make this happen. Together they created a new kind of organisation to unlock peacebuilding potential.

Established in 2009, the PeaceNexus Foundation is the realisation of these two visions. From the outset, it aimed to:

  • Strengthen changemakers and innovators in peacebuilding
  • Assist organisations to address peacebuilding challenges, particularly at local and regional levels
  • Foster collaboration between peacebuilders
  • Promote the role of business in peacebuilding

These founding objectives still drive our work today.

Our success depends on our ability to strengthen leaders and organisations to foster partnerships and respond to peacebuilding challenges.

During the early years, demand for our services grew steadily. This clearly shows that PeaceNexus has a unique position as a niche service provider that responds to the needs of organisations active in the peacebuilding sector. We built relationships with a diverse group of partners across several geographies, including both civil society organisations and governments.

Beginning in 2012, under the leadership of our founder Anne Gloor, we pioneered efforts to highlight the role of business in peacebuilding. We also introduced an annual call for proposals to deal with the overwhelming demand from civil society organisations.

2014-2019: Growth and Regional Focus

In 2014, Catriona Gourlay was appointed Executive Director of PeaceNexus. Since then, we have:

  • Forged partnerships with selected international organisations that have the potential to support peacebuilding, both multilaterals (including the United Nations, the European Union and the G7+) and non-governmental organisations such as Democracy Reporting International, United Network of Young Peacebuilders, and Trial.
  • Focused our support on local actors in four priority regions — Central Asia, South East Asia, West Africa, and the Western Balkans — and aligned our work around regional priorities.
  • Concentrated our advisory services in three areas: Organisational Development for groups with a peacebuilding mandate; Conflict Sensitivity for organisations working in conflict-affected contexts; and Inclusive Dialogue with Business to strengthen dialogue between business actors, communities and governments on issues of common concern.

Our first ten years have seen exceptional results for PeaceNexus and our partners around the world. Through partnerships with over 130 organisations (60 of which are currently receiving support) we have strengthened understanding of, commitment to, and action on peacebuilding.

Examples of achievements in line with our founding vision include:

  • Strengthening changemakers in peacebuilding – We have helped advocate for and implement new global policy and practice on youth and peacebuilding by workingwith the UN Peacebuilding Support Office and youth-led NGOs to promote a UN Security Council Resolution on Youth, Peace and Security, to develop programming guidance and to secure funding for youth-focused actions.
  • Assisting organisations in addressing peacebuilding challenges – Our support has led to humanitarian and development organisations (Christian Aid, International Office for Migration, the Caritas network in Burkina Faso and the West African network of pastoralist organisations “Réseau Billital Maroobé”) adopting new guidance and peacebuilding actions.
  • Fostering collaboration between peacebuilders – We have supported new mechanisms to improve intra-regional collaboration in the Western Balkans across national and ethnic lines working with the Western Balkans Fund and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office.
  • Promoting the role of business in peacebuilding – We have facilitated stronger community engagement with governments and companies involved in mining and infrastructure projects in Myanmar, Niger, Kyrgyzstan and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, we established a Peace Investment Fund and engage with multinational companies it invests in, to assess and improve their contribution to peacebuilding.

Independent analysis shows that:

  • 90% of our partners identified tangible improvements in capacities and how they work since the beginning of the partnership. The types of results they identified include:
    • 54% more clarity on strategic direction
    • 22% stronger collaboration and/or learning and adaptation practices
    • 14% improved conflict analysis capacities
  • More than 80% of partners saw the role of PeaceNexus as facilitator and advisor and characterized the relationship as collaborative and based on mutual trust
  • None of our partners felt that they would have achieved these changes without our support.

PeaceNexus now has twenty staff based in Prangins, Switzerland, just outside Geneva, and in our four regions of focus. We have worked with well over a hundred consultants, most of them regionally-based, to support local partners and efforts. Our current 2018-2020 strategy describes our services, partners and regional priorities in more detail.

10 Years Anniversary

On 28 June 2019, we celebrated our 10th birthday together with board members, collaborators and friends. For this occasion we showed the PeaceNexus anniversary video featuring a selection of our regional partners, doing courageous and important work in Kyrgyzstan, Niger, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Future

Conflict risks have increased due to current political and environmental factors. There is a growing demand from governments, civil society groups and businesses for the services we offer. While remaining lean and flexible, we are striving to meet this demand. In doing so, we are learning from each partnership, documenting good practice and building local capacity to respond.

The visions of our founders remain highly relevant: using an innovative approach to philanthropy, PeaceNexus combines strong local and international partnerships to deliver collective locally-led peacebuilding results.