Scope of the peace strategy

Why talk about the role of entrepreneurs and businessmen in the construction of peace?

The construction of a new transition towards peace in Colombia calls upon the decisive participation by all of society's stakeholders, including the enterprise sector.

We believe that the subject of the construction of peace must be debated extensively and addressed in all seriousness, as we are facing a historic opportunity that will turn us into the potential drivers of a new environment filled with opportunities and challenges for our entrepreneurs.

It is clear that the end of the armed conflict Colombia will not resolve all of the country's complex set of problems. It does, however, represent a unique opportunity to take a quantum leap in many areas.

In this sense, concrete actions and in-depth debates are required, that will allow us to better understand the relationship between the enterprise sector and the construction of peace. We are aware of the need to promote contents, to formulate strategies and to imagine scenarios that will promote the construction of peace in the country.

This new environment means that entrepreneurs and the private sector must assume an active role in the design, conduction, debating and handling of said transformations. We are firm believers that the responsibilities of the private sector cannot be delegated, and we are ready to make our contributions.

The private sector has the necessary tools so that, jointly with the State and the communities, projects and initiatives can be undertaken that will help us achieve the sustainable development goals established by the UN. In this sense, the construction of peace is not a topic that is unique to Colombia's reality; it is a global issue that has been included in the current development agenda, specifically under Sustainable Development Goal No. 16.

Finally, we conceive the construction of peace in Colombia as a national, long-term project of a public-private nature. In this sense, the enterprise sector can, in addition to generating jobs and paying taxes, support a culture of legality, contribute to institutional strengthening, to the generation of capabilities for coexistence, foster civil dialogues about public policy issues, generate new inclusive markets and production chains, among others.

Why are we talking about the construction of peace at the CCB?

We firmly believe that trade and markets are drivers of peace and development. Violence or war impose great costs on businesses and greatly affect market growth.

Our CCB has been contributing to the construction of peace and the generation of healthy business and sustainable environments for many years.

Our organization is committed to following and complying with the ten principles of the United Nations' Global Pact, and is a founding signatory of "Business for Peace", because we are convinced that faced with the possibility of a peace accord and a potential scenario for the construction of peace, the private sector must play a key role in the reconstruction of the social fabric, the strengthening of the institutions and the promotion of development with social inclusion, based on a deep commitment towards human rights.

Bearing all of this in mind, we at the CCB have undertaken different projects; for example, we are pioneers in the re-insertion of former combatants into society and, jointly with the Colombian Agency for Reinsertion, we manage a program whereby we employ close to 40 re-inserted Colombian citizens who are excellent workers. Furthermore, and working jointly with the National Police, we have explored new tools such as police mediation, in order to manage urban conflicts with a broader range of human security.

We conduct the only survey about the peace process and entrepreneurs. As of today, we have made three surveys in Bogotá, and we are ready to apply this survey in nine capital cities in different regions in the country.

Our Arbitration and Conciliation Center is currently undertaking a series of very valuable programs that directly impact the goals of constructing peace through the use of alternative dispute resolution methods.

We must accompany our entrepreneurs from the CCB, and provide them with the best tools to understand and analyze the new peace-building environment. Those entrepreneurs who best adapt and prepare, will receive the greatest dividends and will best mitigate the inherent risks from the transition.

Why must the private sector, and specifically, the enterprise sector, get involved in the construction of peace?

Colombia is experiencing a period of significant transformations.  This new environment means that entrepreneurs and the private sector must assume an active role in the design, conduction and handling of said transformations. We believe that this responsibility by the private sector cannot be delegated to others, and we are prepared to contribute to the construction of the Colombia of the 21st century.  The end of the armed conflict Colombia will not resolve all of the country's complex set of problems.  It does, however, represent a unique opportunity to take a quantum leap in many areas.  The private sector has the necessary tools so that, jointly with the State and the communities, projects and initiatives can be undertaken that will help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established by the UN, specifically in SDG 16. 

How can the enterprise sector contribute to the construction of peace in Colombia?

Historically in Colombia the role of the private sector in the construction of peace has been understood in terms of generating jobs or paying fiscal dues.  Those are important measures, but they are only a part of the whole.  We must think of new ways and schemes through which each company or productive segment will be able to continue fulfilling their enterprise goal while generating positive impacts in terms of the construction of peace.  The enterprise sector can additionally contribute in terms of competitiveness, innovation, sustainability and formalization.  We believe that the enterprise sector must play an active role in the new partnerships established between the State, at a local and national level, and the communities. 

How is the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce currently contributing to the construction of peace?

The Bogotá Chamber of Commerce has been contributing to the construction of peace and the generation of healthy business and sustainable environments for many years.  First and foremost, we firmly believe that trade and markets are drivers of peace.  Violence or war impose great costs on businesses. For example, we are pioneers in the re-insertion of former combatants into society and, jointly with the Colombian Agency for Reinsertion, we manage a program whereby we employ close to 40 re-inserted Colombian citizens who are excellent workers with a successful professional career.  Furthermore, and working jointly with the National Police, we have explored new tools such as police mediation, in order to manage urban conflicts with a broader range of human security.  We conduct the only survey about the peace process and entrepreneurs.  As of today, we have made three surveys in Bogotá, and we are ready to apply our instrument at a national scale, in 9 capital cities.  Lastly, our Arbitration and Conciliation Center is currently undertaking a series of programs that directly impact the goals of constructing peace through the use of alternative dispute resolution methods.  These are only a few examples of the work that the Chamber has carried out on these matters. 

What is the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce's agenda for the future, regarding the contributions to the construction of peace?

We believe we must first get organized as a sector, and to set a shared agenda regarding the role of the private sector in the construction of peace in Colombia.  There is a huge risk of atomization and duplication among the different private institutions that participate in peace-building activities.  There are many different agendas, sufficient resources, but poor coordination and articulation.  Therefore, and along with other important stakeholders in this ecosystem, we are starting a new collective leadership process where we invite the sector as a whole to participate.  We believe this shared agenda will be very useful for the enterprise sector, for the State, for the communities and for international cooperation, as a whole. 

Why was the Peace Direction at the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce created? What is its function?

We realized that the construction of peace is a complex body of knowledge where many different disciplines merge and, considering its importance and transverse nature, it must have its own structure and mission.  For us, this is a highly strategic area.  In the future all companies in Colombia will be required to have this kind of sensitivity and capabilities to better understand and adapt to their environment, considering that concepts such as Corporate Social Responsibility and Shared Value are incapable of fully encompassing all of the specific problems faced by our country.   The Peace Building Direction helps us gain a better understanding of the environment, in order to provide better services to entrepreneurs in the Bogotá-Region and to implement more effective interventions on the realities of citizens and entrepreneurs alike. 

Speaking of dividends from peace, what are the opportunities afforded by the post-agreement and the post-conflict stages for entrepreneurs?

Our internal analyses indicate that opportunities both for the Bogotá-Region, as well as for all of Colombia will be countless.  Some opportunities are self-evident such as the generation of new markets in regions which were, in one way or another, affected by autocracy. Territorial integration means that the national market will be receiving approximately 10 million Colombians that had remained isolated due to the armed conflict.  This new market must be leveraged on.  However, markets will not create themselves.  We need a long term commitment by the State for the provision of public assets such as road infrastructure, education and health services, local authorities, justice institutions.  We need to assist the State in the creation of the conditions necessary for its own existence, thus assuring the existence of rising markets.  It is a huge challenge.  There fore, the provision of public goods and assets cannot be the sole responsibility of one Government, it must be a long-term State project.  It must be a national consensus, a project for the whole country. 

What other challenges are expected and how must the private sector face them?

At this time, the main challenge lies in the generation of confidence and trust.  It is natural for the private sector to feel uncertainty regarding the changes that will come from the end of the armed conflict. Ending the armed conflict is a very different thing from building peace.  The private sector is challenged with managing the resulting uncertainty and facing change with a positive outlook in order to contribute to the peace-building effort.  Even with the difficulties it will entail, the private sector must generate confidence with the State and the communities.  The damage, the challenges and lags we are left with after 50 years of war are so great that only harmonized, joint and constant work between the State, the private sector and the communities can lead us were we want to go: to the construction of a prosperous, competitive and inclusive Colombia. 

 

 

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