Last month International Alert took part in the World Bank’s first Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV) Forum in Washington DC. We presented as part of a panel discussion on conflict-sensitivity and also joined a training course on FCV for World Bank field staff.
The event, which took place on 11–13 February, brought together civil society, academics and officials from governments and international organisations (including the UN, World Bank and OECD) from around the world to exchange on approaches to addressing contemporary forms of FCV.
The forum opened with a high-level discussion between presidents and prime ministers on the politics of peacebuilding, followed by further high-level sessions on jobs, harnessing the private sector for peacebuilding, and redefining fragility to embrace the latest thinking on ending poverty.
Panel discussions then convened various experts to discuss a range of key topics, such as political settlements, justice, governance, oversight and accountability of bank operations, extractive industries, private sector standards for engagement in countries impacted by FCV, forced displacement, public-private partnerships, trust funds and public services.
The forum showcased World Bank work on these and many other issues (find out more here), and highlighted its collaborations with bilateral and multilateral partners as well as international NGO partners such as Alert. During the forum, there was a strong focus on the Middle East and north and west Africa, as well as the role of young people in peacebuilding and development.
We took part in a panel discussion on developing conflict-sensitive country strategies and portfolios, presenting the findings from our recent research, Fragile reforms. Our presentation focused in particular on the use of the World Bank’s conflict filter in Kyrgyzstan and explored what it would mean to scale-up this approach to other countries where the institution works, including Azerbaijan, Myanmar and Nigeria.
Following the forum, Alert also participated in a four-day training for World Bank staff working in countries impacted by FCV. Discussions addressed the challenges facing those working in FCV contexts, including difficulties associated with securing appropriate negotiating partners for relationship building in contexts of political instability, and how to programme where violent conflict has spilled-over.
The group also discussed internal challenges facing World Bank staff who are creating programming for FCV environments, such as the decline in traditional forms of development aid and the complexity of measuring fragility and peacebuilding results – especially in middle-income countries that are not typically recognised as being impacted by FCV.
The forum and subsequent training represent important contributions by the World Bank to advance its policies, procedures and operations. However, much more still needs to be done to ensure the institution can deliver on its strategic commitment to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity by 2030. Since poverty and inequality are increasingly concentrated in countries impacted by FCV, learning to work effectively in these environments is critical to achieving this mission.
In addition to advancing internal reform processes within the World Bank, the forthcoming global Financing for Development (FfD) summit in Addis Ababa in July will influence how effectively organisations like the World Bank can deliver on their strategic commitments in fragile situations. Alert is engaging closely with partners in civil society, governments and international organisations to highlight that the global FfD agreement must properly address the development challenges and needs confronting people impacted by FCV.