The meeting took place virtually through an Open Space Technology platform that enabled over 770 peace mediation practitioners from around the world to connect, exchange views and co-create a truly unique event.

The EU is currently developing a new Concept on Strengthening EU Mediation and Dialogue Capacities and a first set of EEAS mediation guidelines that will guide its work into the next decade. The aim of this year’s Community of Practice was to enable peace mediation practitioners to input into ongoing policy processes, whilst simultaneously cultivating a joint understanding and mutual enrichment on EU mediation and mediation support.

The Mediation Support Team of the EEAS convened an innovative Open Space style of digital meeting. Open Space Technology is a method of organising and running meetings that creates time and space for people in communities to engage deeply and creatively around issues of concern for them. The objective is set in advance but the agenda is co-created by those with the power and desire to see it through. Free flowing conversation is the norm under this method, as is the ability for participants to move between sessions if they feel they are not learning or contributing.

As the lead Consortium partner organising this meeting with the EEAS, mediatEUr’s role was to bring this innovative meeting to life. Participants were asked in advance to propose thematic sessions they would like to chair so as to maintain a necessary degree of oversight. Online Open Space Meetings are relatively new and the technology to enable them remains in development. mediatEUr used QiqoChat, a specially designed platform that allows participants to move freely between plenary, breakout rooms and also virtual cafés to connect with other participants like in a real conference setting. The thematic sessions were also mapped through short ‘key takeaway’ reports submitted by the session chairs.

Alexander Stubb, former Prime Minister and MEP from Finland and current chair of the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) opened the meeting with a reminder that mediation is a political and collaborative process. Whilst in the closing session, EEAS Secretary- General Helga Schmid underlined the importance of mediation as the primary means for conflict prevention and resolution. She also underlined the EU’s role as promoter of broad inclusion, not only of women and youth but also of the private sector.

Participants proposed and chaired 32 different sessions, the key takeaways from which are presented through an online mapping that is featured on the Community of Practice 2020 site. Key takeaways include the importance of empowering women mediators, the need for the EU to act as a values-based mediation actor, the importance of acknowledging how climate change affects conflict dynamics as well as the need for EU mediators to become more creative and innovative in their work.

Kathrin Quesada is mediatEUr ‘s Senior Executive Officer:

“As we continue to reflect and harvest the lessons learned from this experience, what is clear is that there is a strong interest among peace mediation practitioners in exploring new forms of convening online through virtual platforms that allow us to connect and engage in dialogue in different ways. The meeting certainly exceeded our expectations in this regard and has proven to be one way of rendering policy processes fit for the digital age.“