UNESCO Initiative

The GHfP Institute facilitates and coordinates the UNESCO Collective Healing Initiative, in partnership with the UNESCO Routes of Enslaved Peoples Project.

Inspired by UNESCO’s medium-term (2022-2029) priorities (e.g. Africa, gender equality, and youth empowerment), and committed to the UN Decade of People of African Descent (2015-2024), the overarching aims of the Collective Healing Initiative are:

  • to break the silence about historical brutality of slavery, colonialism, genocide and continued structural violence
  • to confront socio-economic deprivation, exclusion, and vulnerability
  • to challenge gender inequality, social injustice, and structural racism
  • to address intergenerational trauma and ill-being
  • to advance politics of dignity towards social transformation

These objectives draw on updated knowledge of the interconnection between collective healing, social justice and global well-being. Ongoing research highlights that collective healing can contribute to “de-racialising” our vision and “decolonising” our conception of humanity. It does so by deconstructing racist discourses and ideology, recognising and addressing the harms of slavery’s legacies, transcending the antagonism of ‘us-vs-them’ mentalities, and co-envisaging a common future for all. More importantly, it can help communities (re)discover the gifts of (indigenous) knowledge, wisdom and practices, and enrich our collective resilience, well-being and co-flourishing with nature.

Currently, the Collective Healing Initiative consists of four mutually reinforcing iterative processes:

1. Collective Healing, Social Justice and Global Well-Being:

  • To launch intergenerational dialogue & inquiry pilots in communities in four continents and explore historical wounds connected to the legacies of slavery and colonialism.
  • To invite and gather narratives of resilience and examples of indigenous knowledge, wisdom and practices of collective healing.
  • To co-develop a bespoke Collective Healing Programme based on learnings from the inquiries.
  • To pilot the programme in the community facilitated by women and youths.

2. Empowering Women and Youths:

  • To establish an innovative UNESCO Future Leaders Academy
  • To offer co-created transformative competences programmes for empowering women and youth facilitators – the driving forces of the bespoke collective healing programmes in different communities.
  • To nurture, enable and support women and youths to become pillars of their communities who will collaborate in confronting systemic discrimination and intolerance in worldwide communities.   

3. Research, Evaluation and developing UNESCO Policy Brief:

  • To develop academic and interdisciplinary research for understanding and evaluating participating communities’ experiences of collective healing, well-being and regeneration.
  • To analyse meaningful impacts across the different communities involved in the Project.
  • To propose a UNESCO policy brief that characterises institutional conditions for social transformation.

4. Implementation and Dissemination:

  • To improve and implement collective healing programmes in relevant communities.
  • To mobilise NGOs and partners to provide continuous support to women and youth facilitators and offer leadership opportunities for them to introduce collective healing to wider societies.
  • To distribute and share research findings and disseminate policy briefs and learnings through publications, webinars, and conferences.