Risk management is a topic that conjures up mind-numbing images of log frames, badly rendered PowerPoint process diagrams, and “handbooks” that often run many hundreds of pages. Cast in this light, many tend to see risk management in narrow terms—as a box-checking exercise, a mere process to avoid a loss, or lowering the probability of a bad thing from occurring. A key takeaway from the recommendations of the UN-World Bank jointly published report, Pathways for Peace, is the urgent need to jettison this narrow managerial and technocratic view of risk management toward a more dynamic, sophisticated, and ambitious view of risk that ought to place it at the very core of how humanitarian and development practice can achieve better outcomes.
At least since Aristotle, theorists have believed that political discontent and its consequences—protests, instability, violence, revolution—depend not only on a society’s absolute level of economic well-being, but also on its distribution of wealth. However, many societies also experience low levels of conflict that continue to simmer without tipping over into the kind of outright violence that takes a heavy toll on lives, livelihoods, economic output, and stability for multiple generations.
Consider some figures: In 2016, the world spent almost US$1.7 trillion on military expenditures, a number that included not only weapons, but also pensions and salaries of personnel. By contrast, data from the OECD show that net official development assistance for the same year peaked at US$142 billion. In other words, countries spend over ten times more on war than aid in an era when about 2 billion people still live in places where violence is a threat to life.
Why pathways toward violence are hard to shift, and what we can do to help
Have you ever left your house in the morning for an early appointment—a doctor’s visit, say—and found yourself, 20 minutes later, outside your office building instead? You’ve made that commute so many times, your body just took you there without your brain really noticing.
We do this on a collective level, too. We develop rituals and continue doing them, sometimes long after they cease to make sense or bring us benefit.
When the report Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict was released, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “Preventing violent conflict is a universal concern. It is not only for those in a specific region or income bracket. We are all affected, and we must work together to end this scourge.” However, achieving the worthy goal of preventing violent conflict seems far away. In fact, recent years have experienced an increase in the number of ongoing conflicts.
by sharpening our understanding of it, hearing directly from those affected by it and thinking collectively through what we must do to overcome it.
We all agreed, acting on a renewed understanding of fragility and what it means to vulnerable communities represents an urgent and collective responsibility. We’ve all seen the suffering. In places like Syria, Myanmar, Yemen and South Sudan, the loss of life, dignity and economic prosperity is rife.
Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ~ Albert Einstein
Today, conflicts have become more complex and last longer. About 2 billion people —about a third of the world’s population —now live in countries affected by conflict. This conflict is often linked to global challenges from climate change to human trafficking. Violent conflicts are no longer defined by national borders. They cost about $13.6 trillion every year and pose a significant threat to the 2030 agenda, which is why governments around the world are interested in taking more effective measures to prevent them.
Policy makers can find two simple but key messages coming out of the jointly published UN–World Bank report, “Pathways for Peace, Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict.” The first is that economic and social development can play a central role in preventing violent conflict; the second is that development needs to be conceived differently in countries or regions that have obvious risks of violent conflict. The report also argues that governments and the donor community are far from having internalized these messages; as a result, huge opportunities are being missed. The report clearly shows that prevention works and creates significant savings—but for these to be realized, actions must be undertaken early and sustained over a long period of time. They must also be strongly focused on the ways in which security, peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian concerns intersect.
. Policy makers from developed and developing countries, practitioners from humanitarian agencies, development institutions and the peace and security communities, academics and representatives of the private sector will come together with the goal of increasing our collective impact in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence (FCV).
The theme of the Forum, Managing Risks for Peace and Stability, reflects a strategic shift in how the global community addresses FCV – among other ways by putting prevention first. This renewed approach is laid out in an upcoming study done jointly by the World Bank and United Nations: Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict. The study says the world must refocus its attention on prevention as a means to achieving peace. The key, according to the authors, is to identify risks early and to work closely with governments to improve response to these risks and reinforce inclusion.
- United States Institute of Peace
- Save the Children
- Mercy Corps
- International Rescue Committee
- International Committee of the Red Cross
- international development association
- 2018 Fragility Forum
- Fragility Forum
- East Asia and Pacific
- Europe and Central Asia
- Middle East and North Africa
- Central African Republic
- Sustainable Communities
Each one is different - one has pink rims, and multi-sized dots, and hues of electric orange, deep fuchsia, and sea foam green. Another is donning pinstripes in red and orange, with mint green rims. And another – violet, blue, and red checkers with accents of lavender.
- from new financing mechanisms in Jordan and Lebanon, to new cash transfer programs in Yemen allowing more refugees access to food.