PeaceTech Prize Conversation

Trailblazing Technologies for Peace

Jun 20, 2024

By Hannah Chafetz and Dr. Stefaan G. Verhulst

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In an era marked by escalating global tensions and unprecedented challenges, the need for innovative approaches to peace has never been more critical. While much attention is paid to technology’s negative capabilities, technology can also play a more positive role, through what is known as “Peacetech.” PeaceTech describes the use of technology for peacebuilding and conflict resolution. However, PeaceTech is an emerging field and more needs to be done to accelerate a global PeaceTech movement. 

On May 31st, 2024, the Kluz Prize for PeaceTech hosted a webinar and panel discussion on the possibilities of technologies for peace. During this webinar, we asked experts from the global PeaceTech community to reflect on their own experiences trailblazing PeaceTech initiatives and what it takes to build momentum around a global peacetech movement. 

Speakers included distinguished participants from the 2023 Kluz Prize for PeaceTech and representatives of The GovLab: Bogdan Ivanel (Founder & Chairperson, Commit Global), Shawn Guttman (Founder & CEO, Project Didi), Stefaan G. Verhulst (Co-Founder & Chief R&D, The GovLab), and Hannah Chafetz (Research Fellow, The GovLab).

The event began with a presentation from The GovLab’s Stefaan G. Verhulst on the promise of PeaceTech. Stefaan provided an overview of the types of technologies that can be harnessed for peace, The GovLab’s previous work in this space (including the Topic Map on PeaceTech applications), and noteworthy examples from the field. Some of the examples included 3D printed schools in Ukraine and networks of citizen journalists to share stories about social cohesion.

Screenshot 2024 06 20 at 9.54.09 amPeaceTech Topic Map: https://shorturl.at/FFdWn

Stefaan concluded by reflecting on the value of PeaceTech in today’s landscape: “PeaceTech matters more than ever before, in part because of massive concerns [about peace] and conflict zones, but also because technology is rapidly evolving – especially artificial intelligence (AI). As data, AI and other technologies are advancing, we need to pay attention to how those technologies can be used in a responsible way for peacebuilding and conflict prevention.”

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Stefaan’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion with Bogdan Ivanel and Shawn Guttman and co-moderated with Hannah Chafetz. A few highlights from the panel discussion:

  • Bogdan spoke about his experiences developing digital infrastructure to support Ukrainian refugees at Commit Global. At Commit Global, the team aimed to bring together aid management solutions, information about health services, and other resources to a singular platform to help NGOs of all sizes coordinate, work more efficiently, and trace activities. He explained that since the 2023 Kluz Prize for PeaceTech, the team has been able to expand this work to the global level – focusing on new regions such as Lebanon and Armenia. 

  • Bogdan reflected on the value of digitalization for the civil society sector. He explained that many technologies developed by the private sector (e.g. stock management software) could provide great value for civil society but have yet to be implemented due to capacity and capability constraints. He explained that there is a need for a third party organization that can provide digital solutions for many local contexts, which is why Commit Global has been working to scale its infrastructure. 

  • Shawn discussed how Project Didi has transformed peace theory to practice using technology. He explained that Project Didi has leveraged machine learning to be able to analyze massive amounts of data and develop real time insights for peace stakeholders (e.g. NGOs, grassroots organizations, and governments) to use in their work. Since October, Shawn and his team have been working on applying this work to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and will be launching a pilot program with local actors this summer. 

  • Shawn spoke to the challenges in defining key performance indicators (KPIs) in the field of PeaceTech. Given that the ultimate goal of peacetech initiatives is to foster peace, how can we measure that? He explained that Project Didi has broken this down into smaller KPIs to demonstrate tangible impact. The Project Didi team is mainly focusing on impacting people’s perceptions of conflicts and they can measure this through public opinion surveys, election results, and platform discussions. He also reflected on how a sign of success could be NGOs and grassroots organizations shifting focus to other problems. 

These are just a few highlights from the discussion. You can watch the full recording of the event HERE

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Are you trailblazing technologies for peace? Apply for the 2024 Kluz Prize for PeaceTech today!

The Kluz Prize for PeaceTech is an annual initiative designed to celebrate, recognize, and propel the innovative use of emerging technologies to foster peace, reduce conflict, and safeguard human dignity and universal human rights across the globe. 

The 2024 award will grant $20,000 to celebrate groundbreaking achievements, selected by a distinguished jury of experts and leaders from tech sector, civil society and academia. The winner will be honored at an award ceremony in New York City on September 19th, 2024, coinciding with the 79th United Nations General Assembly and the International Day of Peace.

The application will be open until Monday, July 15th, 2024 @ 11:59 PM EST!

Apply now by visiting our website: kluzprize.org

Kluz Prize for PeaceTech 2024

Application Deadline Extended

Apply to the 2024 Kluz Prize for PeaceTech and be recognized for your achievements and contributions to the evolving field of technologies for peace.

Applications are now due July 29th at 11:59pm ET.