On the eve of the United Nations International Day of Peace, peacebuilders from Fiji, Papua New Guinea (including Bougainville), Solomon Islands and Tonga gathered for the Strengthening Capacities for Peace and Development (CPAD) third workshop on "Sharing and Exploring Pacific Approaches to Dialogue".

In his opening remarks, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Knut Ostby reminded guests that Peace Day provides an opportunity for millions of people across the world to commemorate and celebrate peace.

"It is an opportunity for many of us to think of what we can do to contribute to peace and how we can make peace in our own relationships as well as how we can impact the larger conflicts of our time."

Reflecting on the Solomon Islands 'tensions', Mr Ostby said that while the death, destruction and displacement cannot be forgotten, the workshop must focus on the extraordinary efforts of the countless men and women who have been striving for peace in the Solomon Islands and the Pacific region.

"While we cannot change the past we can learn from our experiences and work for a brighter tomorrow. This is the purpose for holding this workshop and bringing together the most innovative and dynamic peacebuilders from across the Pacific region to share and explore their experience in peacemaking with one another."

Mr Ostby also acknowledged the work of the many peacebuilders present, who have demonstrated enormous courage and dedication, who have tackled difficult conflicts like tribal warfare in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea; inter-communal violence in Solomon Islands; political instability in Fiji; and social unrest in Tonga.

Speaking on behalf of the collaborating facilitator and organizer, the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace, the Honorable Minister Hypolite Taremae reiterated the call to learn from each other's' experience and knowledge.

"I believe that we can learn from each other and put together some of the best practices of Pacific approaches to dialogue in the Pacific community," he said. "It will enhance or remind participants to gain the knowledge and skills and the confidence to deal with these processes."

The CPAD workshop will delve deeper into peacebuilding than it has done at previous events to examine the role of dialogue as a means of social change that focuses on building relationships and solving complex social problems simultaneously. The programme is designed to enable this group of peacebuilders to acquire some new tools and methods to design and facilitate peaceful change processes that strengthen social collaboration.

As he officially opened the workshop, Honorable Taremae also acknowledged peace stakeholders and donor partners who have contributed to peace building and state building processes in the Pacific region and in the Solomon Islands.

The Strengthening Capacities for Peace and Development (CPAD) is a project of UNDP. It aims to strengthen the conflict prevention architecture of the Pacific region by strengthening the government and civil society organizations with a conflict prevention mandate. It also seeks to support and strengthen the successful implementation of peacebuilding initiatives.

Source: Press Release, UNDP Pacific Centre