As we continue to move through these pandemic times, the Hub continues to strive towards looking beyond one meter distancing to make new contacts while also enriching existing ones. The pandemic does not, after all, temper the challenges of projecting stability in the South through mutual support and understanding. The Hub and our partners in the South still have to focus on increasing cooperation on this communal challenge.
These times require us to be creative and flexible, while never forgetting the human aspect and the professional and private lives of everybody working on this effort. Thankfully, the rapid digital transition which has been taking place over recent decades, now further accelerated by the pandemic, means that almost all of our interactions with partners can be carried out virtually, without risk to us or our loved ones. Of course we all miss the invaluable benefits of meeting in person - shaking hands, speaking face-to-face and enjoying a coffee together.
The dynamics of disinformation, especially in social media, have become an increasing challenge due to this greater reliance on digital communication and we must be vigilant against it. Regarding the situation in the Middle East, we have learnt from panellists during our last webinar - on Emerging Disruptive Technologies - that populations there are growing increasingly dependent on social media as their primary source of news and information. Disinformation is increasingly trying to reinforce an anti-Western narrative. But disinformation is also used by (non) state actors against parts of their own population, or exported to destabilize other countries. Closer to home, we can all see that disinformation is spreading like a second virus on social media, with the result that social cohesion and trust in society is further put under pressure, with groups often being played off against each other. This is further stimulated by external actors with the malign intention of destabilising our societies.
For this reason, it is of utmost importance that we all work in unison to ensure progress continues and, regardless of the obstacle, to never lose sight of the fact that together we are stronger. The challenge may be new and unknown, affecting us directly or indirectly, but collaboration is fundamental to achieving and maintaining peace and security.
This newsletter contains an overview of a number of activities we have developed over the past three months with this spirit in mind, and we are actively developing our production plan for 2021 to guarantee continuance in our shared efforts. I wish you all good health and the strength to stay positive and resilient.
Finally, a kindly reminder that you can keep up to date with Hub activities and recent publications by visiting our website (www.TheSouthernHub.org), which highlights the Hub’s projects and achievements and those of our Partners.