Taking into consideration the complexity of the root causes of the conflict in Syria, and the difficulty in adopting a linear approach in analyses of these root causes, UN ESCWA, as part of its mandate to promote democracy and development in the region, launched the National Agenda for the Future of Syria Programme, a programme that attempted to chart those root causes and their inter-relationships to identify and agree upon a vision for the year 2030 that will guide Syrians in their effort to rebuild their country.
The programme believes that the path to sustainable peace must be an inclusive and participatory one. A hasty peace solution that is not participatory will very likely fall victim to a conflict relapse. As such, it is a core belief in the Programme that governing Syria is solely the right of its people, which is the reason why the process of formulating the scenarios was participatory and diversified.
In an attempt to understand the complex nature of the conflict, NAFS Programme addressed the most significant social, economic and governance-related internal structural factors (root causes), which contributed to the making of the conflict.
The Programme’s system-based approach was designed to reflect the complexity of the roots of conflict, and ensure a measurable reflection of its guiding principles in the actual policy options suggested to address the challenges in post-conflict Syria. Furthermore, in order to address the complexity surrounding the conflict, NAFS Programme implemented the creation of thematic working groups.
To link together policies across sectors in a coherent way, the NAFS Programme adopted a framework designed to show the division of the sectors’ workgroups, while at the same time reflecting a systems-based approach. This approach stressed the interactive and interdependent nature of sectors and looked at them as a matrix of inter-reliant domains, the sum of which forms the overall policy alternatives framework.
The framework has an additional layer of “quality control” as NAFS guiding principles and the cross cutting themes (human rights, gender, civil society, environment and sustainability) were standardized and mainstreamed across the policy alternatives
The NAFS Programme continues its mandate to create a technical dialogue platform with its stakeholders to discuss the future of Syria post-conflict and to ensure that the results already achieved are owned by a broad spectrum of Syrian stakeholders and remain relevant to the changing realities inside Syria. The Programme utilizes the gender lens as an integral part of the planning for the future of Syria. It examines the impact of the conflict on women and the particular vulnerabilities they face during times of conflict. However, women are not viewed merely as victims, but as leaders, activists, heads of war-affected households, breadwinners, and active agents for peace, change and reconciliation and as bearers of prime responsibility in recovering and reshaping the future of their country. As a result, in order to better capture these issues, NAFS mainstreamed the gender lens across all delivery sectors and placed it as one of its guiding principles. Read more.
Similarly, NAFS examines the impact of the conflict on the environment while using the environment as an essential cross-cutting issue and an integral part in the planning for the future of Syria. Doing so puts the environment and its sustainability as a priority towards Syria 2030 which includes rebuilding all the foundations and criteria necessary to address the previous damage done to the environment and lay new sound and sustainable foundations. Read more.
To better capture the inter-linkages and inter-dependencies and go beyond a silo-approach (sector by sector), the sectoral policy alternatives where restructured, revised and reshuffled according to a nexus-based approach, which relied heavily on the inter-relationship matrices.
The nine-nexus developed by the Programme were tailored to meet the requirements of the conflict and sequenced according to what the key priorities will be during the peacebuilding and the state building phases. The nexus reflect the direct link between peace and security on one hand, and economic and social development on the other, taking into consideration the likely volatile and interactive context.
This approach allowed the NAFS Programme to design the different policy options in a chronological yet overlapping order.
Please click on the diagram to read more about each individual Nexus.