“Peace during the COVID-19”: Volgograd confirmed its status of the Capital of People’s Diplomacy despite the pandemic

On June 11, 2020, Volgograd representatives spoke at the international webinar by the World Organization “United Cities and Local Governments” dedicated to the peaceful initiatives in the recovery agenda after the COVID-19 pandemic.

What measures are local and regional governments taking to ensure dialogue with communities during the VICD-19 crisis? How is the fight against the spread of hate speech being addressed by local governments, and how can communities be involved in this effort? How has COVID affected the relationship between local governments and social actors? How can governments and international organizations support this agenda of building coexistence and peace at the local level? These and the other questions were offered to the participants by the webinar organizers.

Volgograd, as a city defending the title of the Capital of People’s Diplomacy, delivered a presentation on the possible ways to sustain international cooperation when the borders are closed, contacts are limited, dissociation is growing, and the issues of international politics lend the first place to the internal problems.

Let us be reminded that during the pandemic and self-isolation period, Volgograd has been closely working with its Italian twin-city Turin to prepare the new cooperation agreement, and the Center of Public Diplomacy on the platform of Volgograd State University to expand the already existing agreement. Furthermore, the city managed to partially compensate for the cancellation of public events. For example, Volgograd’s international friends and partners joined the festivities dedicated to the end of the Great Patriotic War by means of a virtual “Katyusha” flashmob : the song which became a symbol of hope during the war, was performed by over 80 persons from 15 cities of the world. On the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the twinning relations between Volgograd and Coventry, an international video bridge was held on June 6 between the two cities’ representatives. The International Youth Conference for Peace in the Future, which Volgograd together with its Japanese twin Hiroshima had scheduled for August, has been partially switched to online format. As for the “Dialogue on the Volga” International Forum of People’s Diplomacy, the preparation to the event is well under way and the Forum has all chances to be held in time.

Among the speakers sharing their cities’ best practices and opinions, there were city officials and heads of the conflict resolution centers.

Volgograd, which was recommended for the webinar by the Eurasian section of the UCLG, turned out to be the only Russian city represented during the event.

By the end of the webinar, it was resolved to include the social and economic consequences of the pandemic to the agenda of the 3rd World Forum of Cities and Territories for Peace, which is scheduled to be held in Mexico City on October 5-7, 2020.

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