Global Forum on Leadership for Shared Societies: Building a world safe for difference

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The Bank Group recently participated in the Global Forum on Leadership for Shared Societies held on the theme: Building a world safe for difference.  The forum, which took place from November 12-14, 2008, in Rotterdam, Holland, aimed at engaging high-level and emerging leaders from governments, civil society organizations and other decision-shaping institutions in discussions on policies and practices that reduce identity-based conflict, promoting diversity and building shared futures for economic and social betterment.

The three-day event was marked by site visits to social cohesion projects in Rotterdam, plenary panel discussions and break-out sessions. The three panel discussions dwelt on the importance of leadership to foster dialogue, manage diversity and increase social cohesion. Examples of change based on conflict resolution and social reconstruction in Northern Ireland and Mozambique as well as responsibilities of national, multinational and local leaders for social inclusion policies and practices. The group break-out sessions exchanged ideas on examples of social cohesion at the national and city levels in selected countries, three of which were in Africa, namely; Sierra Leone, South Africa and Mauritius; and on the contributions  of specific sectors to efforts at promoting social cohesion. The AfDB Partnership and Resource Mobilization Lead Expert, Amabel Orraca-Ndiaye, who represented the Bank, used the occasion to explore prospects of partnerships between the Club de Madrid and the Bank in a few areas, including fragile states and post-conflict situations.

The forum was jointly organized by the Mayor of Rotterdam, Ivo Opstelten, and the Club de Madrid, an independent organization dedicated to strengthening leadership for democratic development around the world by drawing on the experiences and resources of its 70 members, comprising democratic former heads of state and government from 50 countries. The event brought together some 250 participants, including former heads of state and government, representatives of multilateral institutions, bilateral agencies, the academic community, religious organizations, youth clubs and the municipality of Rotterdam. Prominent among the participants were Mary Robinson of Ireland, Bill Clinton of the United States, Ricardo Lagos of Chile (President of Club de Madrid), Kim Campbell of Canada, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Jorge Sampaio of Portugal, Cassam Uteem of Mauritius, Alejandro Toledo of Peru and Hong Koo Lee of Korea. President Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan of Surinam was the only leader still in office who attended the event in view of the tremendous strides and success made by his country in promoting a multi-cultural, religious and racial society towards economic and social development.