Guidance note: Understanding and responding to compound risk in fragile and conflict-affected states

To coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference and the Planetary Security Conference, this is the second in our series of guidance notes exploring issues of climate and security.

In fragile and conflict-affected states, humanitarian crises have become more frequent and complex. The displacement phenomenon is reaching unprecedented levels.

Recent high-profile disasters in fragile contexts such as the droughts in Syria and Mali have highlighted how violent conflict can interact with existing risks like livelihood insecurity or resource competition.

The humanitarian and development world has a responsibility to manage risks before they become crises. There is therefore a need to take into account the complexity of local realities in programming responses.

At the World Humanitarian Summit, donors and implementing institutions acknowledged the need to better address the interconnected risks posed by climate change, disasters and conflict. The question is how to deal with such volatile and insecure contexts?

Joint analysis to better understand complex risks

As climate change, disasters and conflicts are interlinked, so too must be our responses. An important first step in addressing these ‘compound risks’ is improving our understanding and analysis of local contexts and the nature of risks.

However, tools that reflect complex realities and help us identify multi-dimensional and interconnected risks are missing.

→ Read more about the relationship between conflicts and disasters

Strengthening local institutions and investing in local capabilities

When it comes to local practices, we need to build local institutions that are resilient to a range of risks, from drought to conflicts between local groups. This can be achieved by empowering local communities to build their long-term resilience together, supporting local governments to understand and endorse these agreements, and investing in government resources or climate funds for resilience work.

→ Read about seven ways to build resilient local economies in fragile contexts

Decentralising climate finance to reach the most vulnerable

To ensure effective adaptation to climate risks, climate finance must reach the communities that need it most, so they can prioritise the delivery of solutions on the ground.

Local governments need access to international and national climate funds in order to mainstream climate adaptation into their planning and budget systems. Climate finance should:

  • Support mechanisms that explicitly work with local institutions that can build community agreements for local natural resource management;
  • Provide ‘untied’ local finance to enable communities to prioritise their vision for long-term resilience; and
  • Design programmes that empower local government to shape development interventions in response to the local context.

→ Previous guidance note: Migration and urban resilience in fragile states

Further reading

Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank (Creative Commons)