Launching Global Consultations on the World Bank Group’s upcoming Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence

Franck Bousquet

April marked the official launch of global consultations to inform the World Bank Group’s first-ever Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV). Over the next two months, World Bank Group teams will engage with civil society and government representatives, as well as partner organizations and the private sector to discuss priorities and challenges in FCV situations, building on the comparative advantage of the Bank Group in fragile settings. As we embark on this process, the most relevant question for us is how to build on progress made and optimize our interventions to be our most effective on the ground, with special focus on making a lasting difference for the most vulnerable populations. Furthermore, in FCV settings, we know that no single organization can act alone – as the World Bank Group, this strategy is about positioning our analytical, operational, and convening power to contribute to broader international efforts in support of peace and prosperity.
Fragility, conflict, and violence has become the new development frontier, and is central to the World Bank Group’s mission.  By 2030, at least half of the world’s poor will be living in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The global fragility landscape has worsened significantly, with more violent conflicts than at any time in the past 30 years; the largest forced displacement crisis since World War II; high levels of interpersonal and gang violence; conflicts driving 80 percent of all humanitarian needs; and insecurity being the norm in many regions. Today, conflict and violence impact more civilians than at any point over the last two decades.  FCV situations have a clear impact on poverty, and strikingly, the extreme poverty rate is rising primarily in fragile countries. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity will therefore require a concerted effort to tackle the challenges of fragility, conflict, and violence. Through the FCV Strategy, we will keep our focus on how to address some of the key drivers of fragility, conflict and violence in affected countries and their impact on vulnerable populations – notably youth and women – with the end goal of promoting peace and prosperity.
The World Bank Group Strategy for FCV will build on and scale up the progress made over the past years, notably with support from the 17th and 18th replenishments of the International Development Association (IDA17 and IDA18) – our fund for low-income countries – and with the General Capital Increase (2018) that strengthened the focus on FCV in middle-income countries. We know that engaging in FCV settings is fundamentally different than engaging in non-FCV situations and that the nature of the support to FCV-affected countries needs to be tailored, innovative, and focused on the drivers of fragility and factors of resilience. It is now critical to systematize and strengthen the collective support of the Bank Group – including the IFC, MIGA and the World Bank – where the needs are the greatest. Recognizing the suffering of those affected by FCV, as well as the lost opportunities that can often span generations, the strategy will take stock of the progress made and identify both what to do and how the institution can adapt to increase its impact in FCV settings.
To address these challenges – in poor countries and increasingly in affected middle-income countries – those of us working on development, humanitarian and security solutions to FCV are developing new approaches, including pivoting to prevention or staying engaged in conflict or crisis situations; deploying new tools, including through concessional financing and blended finance or through the Risk Mitigation Regime under IDA – which offers $1 billion for programs that specifically target the factors that risk fueling conflict; and leveraging new partnerships by developing alliances with a diverse set of partners, including with those that are closest to the ground, our UN partners, as well as with international platforms, to deliver more effectively in insecure and conflict-affected settings.
Ultimately, the path from fragility to prosperity calls for well-designed sequencing and prioritization. It is a process that requires a step-by-step approach, trial and error, risk-taking when opportune, and the commitment of multiple stakeholders. While it challenges the notion that economic and social development alone will curb fragility, it also shows how critical a role development plays to sustain efforts towards peace and prosperity. And while we recognize that each FCV situation needs to be treated uniquely, the FCV Strategy will be the opportunity to optimize development support to better address these challenges at global, regional, national and local levels. Most certainly, the strategy will emphasize the importance of mitigating crisis risks, building legitimate and accountable institutions and systems, promoting sustainable private sector solutions, supporting resilient societies and communities, and putting people front and center of our work.
Now, we want to hear from you because only a collective effort will make our endeavor successful. In the coming months, we hope to stress-test key areas and principles of engagement. Through this global conversation, we know that we will find new answers, as well as pose new questions. So, whether it is about how to best invest in prevention, how to enhance our work in the most insecure environments, or how to maximize our operational effectiveness on-the-ground, your voice will be critical to developing a strategy that can strengthen our assistance to those in greatest need of our collective support.

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