Disruption and renewal

Published on Tuesday, 25th of May 2021

CMI’s Deputy CEO Hanna Klinge.

‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’, as the famous Churchill quote goes. It’s often been reiterated over the past year that in disruption lies the seed of renewal. The tumultuous effects of the global pandemic have shaken the ground and structures on all levels around us and we have gradually waived our goodbyes to the old state of affairs. The new post-pandemic order of things will emerge with perhaps just one certainty – continuous change. We need to ensure our institutional preparedness to anticipate and respond to the future uncertainties to stay relevant and fit for purpose.

For CMI, the past year presented us with serious disruption on two different scales – the global and the institutional: the Covid-19 pandemic and the loss of our longterm Executive Director Tuija Talvitie. The challenge was two-fold – first, how do we continue our work here and now, and second, how do we make sure we’re prepared for the challenges ahead?

Overall, CMI was able to adapt its operations to the changing environment and to ensure the continued implementation of our programme. Though the disruption came unannounced and the response had to be shaped quickly, it would not have been possible without the years of building context-based knowledge, relationships, networks – and trust. In contexts, where our work is still new, the virtual mode could not be implemented with the same success. One thing remains unchanged – the inherently human-to-human nature of this work. Technology can provide us with powerful tools, but it is not an end in itself. Nevertheless, the creative solutions and tools we’ve built during the past year will stay in our toolbox in the future as well.

For renewal, we would have managed with less disruption. Year 2020 marked CMI’s 20th anniversary and this milestone had prepared a collective mindset for stocktaking and looking ahead. However, the way things went did allow us to seize the opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in future-proofing the institution through two key change processes.

First, CMI initiated a transition from an association into CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation to ensure the sustainable future of CMI – particularly as a means to preserve our independence – and to provide the legal framework for pursuing more innovative partnerships and services. The new structure will lay a lasting basis for upholding the legacy of President Ahtisaari.

Second, we have developed an ambitious Strategy 2030: ‘Mastering the Craft Peace’ to guide our way to the next decade of peacemaking. We will stick to our core strengths of mediation and dialogue and to our role as a trusted partner, while exploring new opportunities to improve and enhance various aspects of the craft and the institution.

This article was published in our Annual Report 2020.