Speeches & Transcripts March 13, 2018

Remarks by WBG Senior VP Mahmoud Mohieldin on Managing Risks for Peace & Stability

Fragility Forum 2018 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 4:15-5:15pm; World Bank Group MC Atrium, Washington DC

Closing Plenary – Managing Risks for Peace & Stability

Remarks by WBG Senior VP Mahmoud Mohieldin (as prepared for delivery)

Your excellencies, guests, colleagues, friends, thank you for your participation in the 2018 Fragility Forum on Managing Risks for Peace and Stability, and for being here to help us sum up the lessons from the past few days. It is my pleasure to chair this session with our esteemed panel of ministers, including: The Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan, Imad Fakhoury; and The Minister of Women and Human Rights Development of Somalia, Deqa Yasin.   

Your presence here today – and the more than 1,000 people who have attended this year’s Forum – speaks to the importance of overcoming fragility in our shared effort to end poverty and reach the rest of the SDGs. It also shows that we all have a critical role to play in achieving these shared goals.

Over the last three days, the international community has taken an important step forward. Through more than 40 sessions across a range of themes we have sharpened our understanding of fragility, and what we must do to overcome it. We know that tackling fragility, conflict, and violence is not something one actor can do alone; instead, we must leverage our comparative strengths and do business differently to address this persistent development challenge. 

Acting on this understanding represents, an urgent and collective responsibility. More than half of the world’s poor are expected to live in fragile settings by 2030, by which time the international community and the World Bank Group have committed to end extreme poverty and achieve the SDGs. We cannot fulfill these commitments unless we promote both prosperity and peace for those ravaged by conflict and crisis.

What we’ve heard during this Forum is that the world needs to do business differently if we are to make that happen. We agree on four things that need to happen:

First, we need to pivot to prevention in the management of conflict and crisis risks. There is consensus that upstream action to mitigate risks (before they spiral into violent conflict or crisis) not only saves lives but also saves significant resources that can be reinvested to promote development gains.

Minister Yasin, we heard this loud and clear from you in yesterday’s session on the new UN-World Bank Pathways report on preventing violent conflict, when you reminded us that a key challenge is to get all stakeholders together in to establish mechanisms for collaboration and coordinated support to respond to conflicts as they arise. We’ll be looking to the Pathways report to help us make that coordination happen.

Second, we must deepen the partnerships between humanitarian, security, peacebuilding, and development actors. A recurring theme of our discussions is that we cannot work in silos if we

hope to address the most complex fragility challenges, from forced displacement, to famine, to conflict. 

I saw this in Somalia, last month, where the people, security, humanitarian, and development actors are helping the government strengthen service delivery and economic growth -- even as they work to address famine risks and stabilize the security situation. You heard Prime Minister Hassan in the opening panel talk about the huge economic potential.

We also heard about leveraging the humanitarian-development-peacebuilding nexus in a panel on Monday, where the Planning Minister of Niger, Ms. Aïchatou Kané emphasized “The solution is to be proactive. It is possible for humanitarians and development organizations to work together, everyone according to their capacity. The leadership of government is needed.” At that same session, Mercy Corps CEO Neal Guyer emphasized the need for humanitarian and development actors to draw on the strength of at-risk populations themselves when he said, “The people impacted are always and everywhere the best agents of their own recovery.”

The third thing we need to do differently is to crowd-in the private sector, from the microenterprises to the conglomerates, as a source of growth, jobs, and infrastructure. As World Bank Group President Jim Kim said on Monday, “there is no way that aid will get us out of fragility, conflict and violence. We have to develop the private sector and focus much more intensively on investing in people.” This message has come up time and again over the last three days. The private sector creates 90 percent of jobs in developing countries, and financing the SDGs will require trillions of dollars in funding, to fill the needed gaps of investments. Official Development Assistance (or ODA) was $142 billion in 2016, which pales in comparison to the need, particularly in fragile contexts.

In fragile settings, where public investment and the reach of the state are often limited, private investment will play a crucial role in spurring growth, creating jobs, strengthening services, and realizing our shared development goals.

To make that happen, development actors need to take exceptional action. The World Bank Group is now seeking to create markets through tools like blended finance and guarantees that de-risk private investment in fragile contexts. IFC CEO Philippe Le Houerou laid out the challenges to this approach, explaining that “In fragile and conflict-affected situations no one size fits all. The key is to minimize risks in each country, working with governments to attract private investments.” 

Fourth, we all agree on the need to protect and empower vulnerable communities like refugees, women, and children. 

Across the world, more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Nearly 25 million are refugees, who have fled across international borders in search of safety abroad, and over half of them are women and children. 

Minister Fakhoury, Jordan has made incredible sacrifices to host over a million Syrian refugees. As you noted on Monday, “90 percent of refugees [in Jordan] are outside the camps,” and it costs

an average of $1.5 billion a year, or 4 percent of GDP, to provide government services to them. Minister, you said the cost of hosting refugees has been highly disruptive to Jordan’s sustainable development path.

Displacement has become an urgent challenge that demands urgent action from humanitarian and development actors. This year, the international community will come together to adopt a Global Compact for Migration and a Global Compact for Refugees, recognizing the importance of cooperation and sharing responsibility as the world faces record-breaking numbers of refugees and migrants moving across international borders. We are also stepping up through new facilities like the IDA18 Refugee Window and the Global Concessional Financing Facility. 

Still, given the scope of the challenge and the number of lives at risk, much more needs to be done to promote stability, hope, and opportunity for refugees, internally displaced people, and the communities that generously host them.

International Women’s Day is tomorrow, and it is an important reminder that women are also impacted disproportionately by fragility and conflict, and we must provide added support -- to both protect and empower them. Evidence also shows that women can serve as very effective actors in efforts to create and consolidate peace. 

To help prevent conflict and promote peace, we need to think of women as active agents of change and identify ways to better engage them as decisionmakers in conflict prevention processes. 

In conflict areas, women empowerment is very challenging due to weakened institutions, low economic growth and low social inclusion. A lot remains to be done to address women’s issues in conflict areas. We must “press for progress,” the theme of this year’s International Women’s day, in countries facing fragility, conflict, and violence.

Minister Yasin, you have reminded us throughout this Forum of the critical role that Somali women are playing in building peace, strengthening resilience, and helping your country take crucial steps toward a more stable, prosperous future.

In addition, as noted in the UN-WBG “Pathways to Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict” report that was launched at this Forum yesterday, violent conflict is increasingly recognized as one of the big obstacles to achieving the SDGs by 2030. The human and economic cost of conflicts around the world requires all of those concerned to work more collaboratively. 

The 2030 Agenda provides an overarching framework for action for states and other actors to work together toward conflict prevention and peace. The SDGs contained in the 2030 Agenda offer entry points for implementing the recommendations of this study.

The WBG is ideally positioned, through its resources and knowledge, to assist client countries in implementing the SDGs in three areas: (i) financing, (ii) data and knowledge gaps, and (iii) implementation. We can achieve this in partnership with all development actors, including the

private sector, to provide more support to national and regional prevention agendas through targeted, flexible, and sustained engagement. 

Let me close by recognizing the leadership of my direct and indirect panelists. In different ways, each minister on this stage is dealing with the challenges of fragility, conflict, and violence on a daily basis. I want to acknowledge the sacrifices, the generosity, and the enduring potential of your countries and your people. The World Bank Group will remain fully committed to helping you achieve your development ambitions, and we call on all our partners to do the same. 

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