And now, what’s next?
A preview of the forthcoming regional GDL Labs
2020 was going to be a special year for the GDL, celebrating its 5th anniversary. Since the planned Summit had to be moved to the next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the May 2020 prE-Summit offered the chance for GDL members to connect with one another. The online format of the prE-Summit provided an extraordinary opportunity for the organisers of the forthcoming 2020/2021 GDL Labs – three of them, and on three different continents – to pitch their ideas and win participants for what promises to be a remarkable chance for GDL members to work on the ground and with local partners again after an extended period of online cooperation.
The possibility to learn more about what is planned and which challenges will be tackled by the planned Labs as well as the chance to pose any questions directly to the organisers helped participants of the future Labs to make an informed decision as to which topics and settings they are most interested in and would therefore like to apply for.
Starting with an online format in the autumn of 2020, the forthcoming Labs in Romania, Mexico and India will include in-person meetings to be scheduled for 2021. Following the application period, the Lab organisers are now in the process of finalising their plans for an exciting season of GDL Labs aiming to innovate diplomatic practice by engaging members from a variety of backgrounds on the ground.
The forthcoming Lab in Romania will be organised by GDL member Stefan Cibian. Hosted by the Făgăraș Research Institute and supported by many local partner organisations, ranging from the Town Hall to civil society organisations and the churches, participants will be encouraged to ask critical questions about the role of local communities – such as the local community of Făgăraș, Romania – in the context of global affairs. These smaller towns – small in local population, but large in number if one considers the global context – often remain invisible in the context of questions relating to security, but also in terms of achievement of the SDGs. The Lab thus aims to do crucial work in relation to rural communities and their role in international relations and the potential they may offer to refine diplomatic practice.
Hosted by the Red Dot Foundation, the Lab in India, co-organised by GDL members Elsa Marie D’Silva, Eirliani Abdul Rahman and Rudrani Dasgupta, will invite participants to think about the impact of urban design on inclusive cities, and to contribute to building a more inclusive and safer city for all inhabitants. The Lab will bring participants to Mumbai – a city defined by its staggering contrasts: a city of dreams for some, a slum for others. Taking into account SDGs 5, 11 and 17, the Lab aims to provide an insight into how to examine intersectionality as well as to improve governance and accountability for the city in the long run. This Lab will be an excellent opportunity to develop and try out a model for an inclusive city that could also be applied elsewhere.
The third Lab, organised by GDL member Edna Martinez and hosted by UNDP Mexico, will bring the GDL to Mexico City, but its focus will be beyond that city. The Lab will address the role of public diplomacy in Northern Central America – one of the most important regions affected by ongoing migration due to the borders between El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. The Lab aims to examine this phenomenon and consider it under the headings of sustainability, social justice and economic growth. Defining migration as a multidimensional phenomenon, the Lab will profit from the diversity of its participants and offer new approaches to furthering transnational cooperation between non-government actors that could also be used in other fields.
For the GDL, united by the idea of supporting local populations and local actors, 2021 promises to be a successful year – one of ongoing international and interdisciplinary involvement, of developing new ideas for global diplomacy and of contributing to a fairer and more sustainable world after COVID-19.
Julia Sattler is Assistant Professor of American Studies at TU Dortmund University, Germany. Following her dissertation, in which she analysed mixed race narratives using the theoretical framework of contextual family therapy, she began exploring the intersections of American studies and urban planning, mostly working with Detroit, MI, and her native Ruhr Valley. She has worked with multiple urban redevelopment projects, and has co-taught a number of classes with urban-planning colleagues from Germany and the US. Following this trajectory, she is now studying the negotiation of radical urban transformation processes in American poetry. Furthermore, she is conducting research for a new book project on female responses to Walt Whitman’s poetry.
Beyond her academic interests, Julia loves theatre, travel, photography and creative writing.
Stefan Cibian believes that together we can generate social change and inspire our communities. He is passionate about bringing together global experiences and everyday local activities and does this through his work in research, consulting and volunteering.
Stefan has a background in development, international relations, political science and law and received his MA and a PhD from Central European University. His research focuses on peacebuilding, statehood and development in Africa. He is also involved in civil society activities, focusing on community development and resilience. Stefan is director at Cibian Consulting and co-initiator of the Făgăraş Research Institute. He is a visiting lecturer in international development at Babeş-Bolyai University.
Previously Stefan was an Academy Robert Bosch Fellow at the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, Chatham House.
Elsa Marie D’Silva is the founder and CEO of Red Dot Foundation (Safecity), a platform that crowdsources personal experiences of sexual violence and abuse in public spaces. Since Safecity started in December 2012, it has become the largest crowd map on the issue in India, Kenya, Cameroon and Nepal.
Elsa Marie is an alumna of the US State Department’s Fortune Program, a fellow with Rotary Peace, Aspen New Voices and Vital Voices, and a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader. She is listed as one of BBC Hindi’s 100 Women. Moreover, she has won the Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award launched by Dušan Stojanović (European Angel Investor of the Year 2013) and the SheThePeople’s Digital Woman Award in Social Impact.
Prior to Safecity, she spent 20 years in the aviation industry, where she worked with Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines. In her last role in aviation, she was Vice President Network Planning.
Eirliani Abdul Rahman is co-founder of YAKIN (Youth, Adult Survivors & Kin In Need), an NGO working in the field of child rights and child protection issues, and a member of Twitter’s Safety & Trust Council. She is also Senior Assistant Director at the Singapore National Council of Social Service and has been seconded to head Operations and Programmes at Caregivers Alliance, a non-profit organisation that helps caregivers of those with mental health issues in Singapore.
In September 2015, the #FullStop to #childsexualabuse campaign that Eirliani led on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi reached 16 million people over six weeks. She won the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Award the same year.
Eirliani edited Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s book Will for Children, a collection of essays on child labour published in 2016. Her book on true accounts by survivors of child sexual abuse Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse was published by Marshall Cavendish in 2017. It won joint second prize in the 2020 Golden Door Awards.
She also contributed a case study to the medical textbook Essentials of Global Health, co-edited by Babulal Sethia, Past President and Global Health Lead of the Royal Society of Medicine, which was published by Elsevier in London in 2018. The book won first prize in the Public Health category at the 2019 British Medical Association book awards.
Eirliani was in the Singapore Foreign Service from 2005 to 2015, serving in Berlin as First Secretary (Political) and then in Delhi as Political Counsellor. From June 2015 to November 2017, she was a member of the Advisory Council of the Global Diplomacy Lab. She is a Fellow of the London-based Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
Eirliani lives in Singapore. She speaks Malay, English, German and Russian.
Read more about Eirliani in her latest blog article. You can also read her articles about her polar expedition, about human trafficking, the injustice of the Brexit for the British Youth and learn more about her work, activism and contribution to the Gender Alliance.
Rudrani Dasgupta works with ActionAid India, an international non-profit aiming to eliminate poverty. Having graduated from University College London with a Masters in sociology (childhood and children’s rights) on a full scholarship, she is now a child rights researcher primarily interested in exploring the long-term impact of structural violence on children, especially in education and family.
She is currently coordinating a state-level study examining the impact of domestic violence on children. Recently, she was part of a state-level committee that drafted a school safety policy for the state of West Bengal in India.
Rudrani has been mentoring young people across the geosocial-economic spectrum ever since she spent two years working in a remote Himalayan school for first generation learners. She also takes a personal interest in mentoring young people from non-traditional and non-linear backgrounds.
Edna Martinez is an enthusiastic consultant in sustainable development and public policy. For over a decade, Edna has worked to design, develop and implement public policies focused on sustainability. She has adapted international agendas to the Mexican context, such as sustainable production and consumption, waste management, eco-labelling and, most recently, the 2030 Agenda, most commonly known as the Sustainable Development Goals.
Edna worked at the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources for over five years, where her proudest achievements include the development of a National Strategy and a Special Program in Sustainable Production and Consumption. She has collaborated with UNDP and the Office of the Presidency in the design of the Implementation Strategy of the SDGs for Mexico and for FAO in the Foresight of the Agricultural Sector. Edna also co-wrote a public policy recommendation for the T20 when chaired by Germany. She also finds great satisfaction in sharing knowledge digitally, in open forums and teaching at universities.
Edna is currently part of a project that is creating an offsite space for co-creation, team building and workshop spaces for international and local organisations. This space, known as Mineralito, is in a tranquil rural area, surrounded by beautiful green landscapes and natural reserves. Knowledge sharing and designing and creating sustainable lifestyles is what inspired Mineralito. This project has turned Edna into an avid researcher of bio-construction in the creation of this magical place, where everything is designed and built with sustainability in mind and shared to be replicated.