The Embassy at Work 2012
'Power of One' Conference Opens in Nicosia
October 9, 2012
Nicosia's UN-patrolled Buffer Zone is providing 200 participants from over 25 countries with a unique setting for a discussion of citizen-led innovation and social change. The “Power of One" conference, an inter-regional learning exchange on the role of citizens and civil society during periods of transition, got underway on October 9, 2012. Hosted by the Cypriot civil society network “Peace it Together”, the three-day event will focus on knowledge sharing between Cyprus, Central and Eastern Europe, and the Arab region. The Cyprus venue reflects the island's position as a historical, cultural and geographical crossroad between the two regions something that U.S. Ambassador John Koenig highlighted in his opening remarks.
The role of civil society as a vital and catalytic agent of change in democratic transition, peace building and reconciliation was cited repeatedly by various speakers at the October 9 opening session, including Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary General in Cyprus Lisa Buttenheim and Director of the United Nations Development Program Representation Office in Brussels Antonio Vigilante. Jim Harmon, Director of USAID's Office of Middle East Programs, said that the "Power of One" provided people from the wider region with "a fantastic opportunity to discuss the issues that interest us all". George Ishak, former general coordinator of the Egyptian opposition movement Kefaya (“Enough”) and a co-founder of Egypt’s Revolution Party, elaborated on recent events in Egypt as part of the Conference inaugural keynote address that evening.
In seeking to identify the role citizens and civil society can play in promoting positive social change in times of transition, the conference will focus on: common strategic issues for the role of civil society across the two regions and in Cyprus; knowledge exchange to promote innovative thinking on key issues across the Euro-Mediterranean region; and establishing sustainable inter-regional partnerships.
The "Power of One" conference is supported by the United Nations Development Program, the United States Agency for International Development, CYINDEP (the Cyprus Islandwide NGO Development Platform), the European Union, the Friederich Ebert Foundation and World Vision. More information, including online streaming of the conference, is available at http://www.pof1.org .