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Peace Train to Bagan, Belfast, Bogota, Beirut, Bekaa Valley and Back

Reflections on 2016 inspired me to share a few comments on projects in countries where peace is gaining a foothold, if somewhat tenuously. A driver in these initiatives is a firm belief that constructive engagement resulting in multi-win outcomes, social justice and enhanced quality-of-life is integral to sustainable peace, prosperity, dignity and decency for all of us, no matter where we live; that effective and equitable administration of markets and marketing is vital to that process; that even in the most conflicted places peace can flourish, if nurtured. Indeed, constructive engagement is powering the peace train.

So, let’s take a quick peek at discoveries from some of this year’s projects. Myanmar’s Bagan, similarly to Cambodia’s Siem Reap two decades earlier, shows promise as a vanguard for cultural understanding, hospitality, and development. Belfast, mired in “the Troubles” for a generation, continues to be a shining star of tolerance and cooperation for Northern Ireland and beyond. The recent peace accord in Bogota, which hopefully ended 50 years of civil war, hints at the transformative potential of marketing communications. Beirut and the adjacent Bekaa Valley suggest that daily vigilance attending to peace-making in complex and conflicted marketing systems such as Lebanon can produce one more day of peace, and then another and another, perhaps for generations.

There is not enough space in this or any other contemplation to detail the ongoing complexities, challenges and threats to peace in each place mentioned above – and a lot of other places that do or do not fit cleverly into alliteration – but my New Year’s resolution is to remain optimistic and “stuck in,” as my old soccer buddies would say, and to continue to explore the nuances and applications of macromarketing and constructive engagement as catalysts to sustainable peace, prosperity, social justice and quality-of-life, in devastated and fragile economies. Whatever is your passion or your toolkit, I encourage you to climb aboard the peace train, in some way and for some community of your choosing, in 2017.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Peace Be with You.

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