Over the last two decades, conflicts and crises have increasingly threatened global peace and stability, as well as sustainable development. Violent conflict has become more transnational and protracted, impacting both low- and middle-income countries. The world continues to face the largest forced displacement crisis ever recorded, with 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Furthermore, climate change is a threat multiplier that can intensify fragility and conflict. Additional risks, such as those posed by technological change and demographic pressures, can pose challenges to even the most resilient societies as well.
In 2020, fragility, conflict, and violence globally further intensified as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, posing a major obstacle to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the World Bank Group’s twin goals to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed an estimated 19 to 30 million additional people in fragile and conflict-affected settings into extreme poverty, while threatening to double the number of food insecure people to 270 million globally.1
In the face of these global challenges, countries already threatened by conflict and crisis are among the most vulnerable. In 2020, many lacked the tools needed to respond to the pandemic’s far-reaching impact because of pre-existing vulnerabilities and gaps in social safety nets, health systems, deep regional disparities, and low levels of public trust. In several countries, the crisis has therefore exacerbated risks and grievances, leading to greater deprivation and social unrest.
In this context, collaboration between the World Bank and United Nations (UN) provides an important platform for supporting countries. Over the past year, the UN and the World Bank have intensified mission-driven partnerships across the humanitariandevelopment-peace (HDP) nexus in countries impacted by fragility, conflict, and violence, leveraging their respective mandates, capacity, and expertise to maximize their collective impact at the country level. Since 2017, the United Nations-World Bank Partnership Framework for Crisis-Affected Situations has provided an important platform to facilitate the engagement of UN agencies in Bank-financed operations while also strengthening joint efforts, engagement, and cooperation. Both the World Bank and the United Nations recognize the importance of partnering with a diverse set of actors to support governments, including civil society organizations, the private sector, other multilateral development banks, regional organizations, and bilateral partners
The period covered by the report (July 2019– June 2020) saw major developments, including the launch of the World Bank Group’s Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV) in February 2020, allocation of an estimated $25 billion for FCV in the 19th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA19), the World Bank’s fund to help the world’s poorest countries, as well as advancement of the UN Secretary-General’s reform agenda with a focus on prevention. The FCV Strategy was a key milestone that built on the progress made by the World Bank Group, including through its cooperation with the UN, in fragile settings. Importantly, the Strategy stressed the need to further systematize partnerships and mobilize expertise and resources from across humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding actors. As part of the Secretary-General’s reform agenda, the UN also invested in enhanced capacity for prevention, strengthening the link between peace and development actors and strengthening its Peacebuilding Support Office, including dedicated capacity supporting UN partnership with the World Bank. This included the launch of the “Humanitarian-Development-Peacebuilding and Partnership Facility” (HDPP Facility) within the Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), to support UN Resident Coordinators and country teams in partnering with the World Bank. The State and Peacebuilding Fund, the World Bank’s largest global multi-donor trust fund for FCV, is a strategic partner to the PBF in working to bridge the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. At the country level, the SPF prioritizes financing of activities conducted in collaboration with the UN, reinforcing partnerships with relevant UN entities and pursuing collective outcomes in FCV countries.
The 2020 UN-World Bank Partnership Report highlights joint work on four priority themes for country-level work across the HDP nexus: prevention and resilience; COVID-19; forced displacement; and food security. In addition, the full inclusion and participation of women and girls is a cross-cutting theme, reflected both in joint analysis and in dedicated operations like the World Bank’s Sahel Women Empowerment and Demographic Dividend project (SWEDD), which is implemented with several UN Agencies. Both the UN and World Bank have recognized climate change as a significant medium- to long-term conflict driver and are investing in adaptation and resilience in many countries facing both climate risks and FCV challenges. The FCV Strategy also highlights the importance of the World Bank Group engaging with peace and security actors while remaining consistent with its mandate, comparative advantage, and technical competence, for example cooperation with UN Peacekeeping Missions.
The World Bank and the UN are cooperating in over 40 crisis-affected situations around the globe. The report, jointly developed by the two institutions, draws on concrete examples of collaboration between July 2019 and June 2020 (FY20) to illustrate the breadth of work together at country level. Countries covered are experiencing different aspects of fragility, conflict, and violence, as well as spillovers and conflict externalities, such as forced displacement.2 Although not exhaustive, given the many areas of collaboration, each theme demonstrates how the UN and World Bank leverage their comparative advantages and deploy complementary technical expertise in these most challenging contexts to advance the cause of sustainable peace and development. The examples included in the report are intended to be indicative and not exhaustive, and were chosen to illustrate the breadth of regions, contexts, themes, and ways of working.