Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President, distinguished members of the Security Council, Your Excellencies, thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you today.
On behalf of the World Bank’s CEO, Kristalina Georgieva, allow me to commend the leadership of the United Nations and the members of the Security Council – in particular the Presidency of Peru – for organizing this crucial meeting.
The issue at hand today – how to effectively support countries impacted by fragility, conflict and violence – is one of the key challenges of our time. For the World Bank Group, it is absolutely central to achieving our mission to end extreme poverty.
Over the past three decades, the international community has made impressive strides in reducing poverty around the world. However, we know that poverty is in fact rising in countries impacted by fragility, conflict and violence, and it is estimated that by 2030 around half of the global extreme poor will live in these settings.
Furthermore, we know that levels of conflict are on the rise – in fact we see today more violent conflicts than in the past thirty years. And we have unprecedented numbers of people fleeing conflict and violence, with over 70 million forcibly displaced people around the world – double the level of just twenty years ago.
These staggering figures demonstrate that if we are to end extreme poverty by 2030 and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must focus our collective efforts on addressing fragility, conflict and violence.
The World Bank Group has significantly scaled-up its investment on this agenda in recent years, including by doubling our financial resources to $14 billion for low-income fragile and conflict-affected situations as part of the International Development Association (IDA) – our fund for the poorest countries.
While financing is essential, we know that it is not enough – indeed we must do things differently if we are to make a positive and lasting change in fragile settings. This is why we shifted our approach under IDA to invest in prevention, support refugees and host communities, and catalyze private sector investment in the most difficult environments.
And perhaps most importantly, we have scaled-up our partnerships across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. Let me commend the Secretary General for his personal leadership on this matter. Mr. Secretary-General, in your report you have clearly and compellingly spelled out the need for a more coherent approach that builds on the complementarities and comparative advantages of all actors.
In this context, we are very pleased about the strong partnership between the World Bank Group and the UN through our Partnership Framework for Crisis-Affected Situations, which has helped us deepen our cooperation in over 40 countries impacted by fragility, conflict and violence.
Furthermore, we have strengthened partnerships with a diverse range of actors beyond the UN – whether it be the African Development Bank, the European Union, civil society organizations or bilateral partners – through joint diagnostics, recovery and peacebuilding assessments, or on-the-ground operational engagements.
For example, in response to the deteriorating situation in Burkina Faso, we are currently working in full cooperation with the UN – under the leadership of the Peacebuilding Support Office –, the EU and the African Development Bank to support the country with a joint Prevention and Peacebuilding Assessment. This type of engagement is critical to explore how we can collectively support the Government to promote peace and maintain social cohesion, and ensure that scaled up support from international partners is well coordinated and aligned with a comprehensive strategy linking prevention, relief, recovery, and development.
Despite the important progress made, we know that more needs to be done.
This is why the World Bank Group is building on the progress made under IDA and now developing its first strategy to address the challenges posed by fragility, conflict and violence. We know that providing development support in fragile and conflict-affected settings is different than in non-fragile settings, given the low capacity, insecurity and often fractured social contract that characterizes these environments.
Therefore, our forthcoming Strategy will be aligned with the ‘Sustaining Peace’ agenda and aimed at ensuring that our approach fully supports the most vulnerable communities and effectively contributes to the international community’s efforts to promote peace and prosperity.
Concretely, the Strategy will propose tailoring our interventions to diverse situations of fragility, while respecting our mandate as a development actor and working in close partnership with the UN and other actors. This is critical, as we know that in order to maximize our impact, we must address the distinct root causes and impacts of fragility as well as offer solutions adapted to the specific local contexts. Let me therefore highlight four key pillars of engagement where we are focusing our efforts:
First, we are scaling up our investments in prevention in order to more effectively address risks before they turn into full-blown crises.
Prevention saves both lives and resources. In fact, we know from our flagship study with the UN, Pathways for Peace, that for every $1 invested in prevention, about $16 are saved down the road. Therefore, by focusing on prevention we can direct more of our resources to sustainable development outcomes, rather than continuously responding to emergencies.
For instance, our support to youth, women and pastoralist communities in Niger exemplifies this approach, as we proactively help the government address the grievances that often lead to the emergence of violent conflict.
Second, we are remaining engaged in situations of conflict to preserve essential institutions and maintain service delivery.
For example, in Yemen, we have partnered with the UN to help deliver over $1.8 billion for development programs that focus on strengthening capacity, building the resilience of local institutions, and preserving hard-won development gains, in full complementarity with the essential humanitarian work of OCHA, WFP, UNICEF, and other key partners.
Partnerships with security actors, such as UN peacekeeping missions in the DRC, Mali or the Central African Republic, have also been key to providing development support in the most fragile environments.
In the Central African Republic, for example, the World Bank is partnering with the MINUSCA peacekeeping mission to support peacebuilding and social cohesion efforts by providing short-term employment opportunities to over 20,000 workers in some of the most insecure areas of the country, therefore strengthening the presence and legitimacy of the state in the eyes of its citizens.
Third, we are supporting countries in critical moments of transition escape the ‘fragility trap’ over the long-term.
Critical to this effort is building the state’s legitimacy and capacity, fostering inclusive institutions, as well as renewing the social contract between the citizens and the state.
We have also partnered with the UN – under the leadership of the Department of Peace Operations – to assess the macroeconomic and fiscal impact of peacekeeping transitions. In Somalia, we partnered with UNSOM to assist the Federal Government in evaluating the fiscal sustainability of the security sector, and the strength of its public financial management system, in the context of a transition in the country.
And fourth, we are helping countries mitigate the spillovers – such as forced displacement shocks – created by fragility, conflict and violence.
For example, in countries hosting refugees like Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Jordan, Lebanon, and Colombia, we are complementing the essential work of humanitarian actors by supporting longer-term development solutions for refugees and host communities, including by working very closely with UNHCR on promoting the policy reforms needed to build social cohesion.
Your Excellencies, let me conclude by stating that this strategic approach is underpinned by our firm conviction that partnerships are essential to effectively prevent conflict, build resilience, and sustain peace.
Only through collective action will we be able to succeed in our mission to end extreme poverty. And only though a shared vision will we be able to effectively support the vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized.
Thank you very much.