A message from the Chair of the Board, Stephanie Blair

2019–20 will be a year defined by climate change, COVID-19, and social conflict exacerbated by toxic national and global politics. This bleak trinity is straining global systems, and the predicted trends for 2021 are not optimistic. These global challenges demand our full and urgent attention, and our responses must be focused on durable solutions.

The implications of the pandemic for security, peace, health, well-being and prosperity remain unclear. What is apparent is that the impact on the conflict-affected countries where Saferworld works with our partners is devastating. The interconnected dynamics of political, socio-economic and environmental problems highlight the challenges ahead, with questions about how we address these interlinked issues. In particular, the deficiencies in our resilience to these crises is a real concern. 

And yet we should also put these challenges into perspective: poverty alleviation continues; women’s participation in community decision-making and political life is increasing; there is pushback against regressive politics, nationalist populism and cultural and racial prejudice; and despite the rise of authoritarianism, democracy is not in retreat. The wave of popular protests is a strong signal of people demanding action, and the climate change strikes that we have seen demonstrate increasing awareness of the enormous environmental challenges we face. 

For Saferworld, I am confident that our work as peacebuilders will continue in innovative and creative ways, with people at the heart of all we do. We say every year that our work is more crucial than ever, and 2020–21 will be no exception. Together with our partners, we continue to dedicate ourselves to the long-term goal of building peace through the highly effective blend of working at the community level and though our global advocacy. We must continue to ensure that any short-term reversals, for example cuts to the global aid and development budget due to COVID-19, are only temporary.

This report illustrates the difference Saferworld makes – not only in our achievements of the last year where we’ve faced unprecedented challenges, but also in contributing to longer-term peacebuilding. I am so proud of the incredible impact of our remarkable organisation, and I salute the tireless efforts of Saferworld’s devoted staff and partners to transform the future.

Stephanie Blair, Chair of the Board of Trustees