Professor Cedric de Coning presents "Adaptive Peace: Coping with Complex Systems in Transition."
Adaptive Peace is an approach to mediation and peacebuilding designed to cope with the uncertainty, unpredictability, and irreproducibility inherent in complex social change process. Complexity theory provides a theoretical framework for understanding how the resilience and adaptive capacity of social systems can be influenced to help them prevent, contain and recover from violent conflict. Insights derived from how self-organisation maintains and transforms complex systems suggests that for peace to become self-sustainable, resilient social institutions that promote and sustain peace need to emerge from within the culture, history and socio-ecological context of the relevant society. Peacebuilders can assist this process, but if they interfere too much, they cause harm by disrupting the feedback critical for self-organisation to emerge and to be sustained. The core lesson from the hybrid peace literature is that the empowered agency of the people involved is critical for the emergence and sustainability of any peace initiative. Adaptive Peace is a conscious effort to decolonize peacebuilding by placing the affected community in the driving seat of an iterative doing-whilst-learning process aimed at navigating the complexity inherent in trying to nudge social-ecological change processes towards sustaining peace, without causing harm.