Eva Grosman gives a talk on ‘Strategy, Innovation and Peacebuilding: lessons from Northern Ireland’ at the 2018 Oxpeace Conference.
Eva Grosman is the Chief Executive of the Belfast based Centre for Democracy and Peace Building and Director for Public Affairs at the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Harris Manchester College.
The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement is an excellent example of social innovation, which radically changed the architecture of the whole eco-system and focused on rebuilding three sets of disturbed historic relationships – between Protestant Unionists and Catholic Nationalists in Northern Ireland; between the people of Ireland, North and South; and between Britain and Ireland. However, while the 1998 Agreement created an environment for consensus and stopped the large scale political violence, the sectarian division continues to paralyse Northern Ireland. Segregation in social housing and education is still a major issue. Public services incur an additional annual cost of up to £833 million in which division may be a factor. Northern Ireland economic performance is consistently below the UK average, with long-standing issues in the labour market including low productivity and high rate of economic inactivity. So, how do you innovate in the political environment where systems, people, organisation and culture are fragmented, and general public not quite ready for the open system of innovation?