UNDP welcomes new OECD report on fragility

Mar 27, 2015

Addressing shocks and vulnerabilities in post-2015 development agenda key to sustainable development

New York –The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, States of Fragility 2015: Meeting Post-2015 Ambitions, stresses the importance of recognizing the link between fragility and poverty.

According to the report, 43 per cent of people living in the 50 most fragile states live on less than US$1.25 per day, and this figure could rise to 62 per cent by 2030, if efforts are not taken to address shocks and vulnerabilities in fragile states.

UNDP and New York University’s Center for International Cooperation co-hosted the report’s launch.

World leaders have called for an ambitious long-term sustainability agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the end of 2015. Expected to be adopted in September, the post-2015 development agenda with a set of proposed Sustainable Development Goals for the next 15 years will seek to reinforce commitment to achieve all MDGs as well as break new ground with goals on inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, peace and justice, among others.

Multidimensional nature of fragility
The OECD report attempts to capture the diversity of risks and vulnerabilities that cause fragility. It considers five main dimensions: violence, justice, institutions, economic foundations and resilience. All countries remain vulnerable in at least some dimensions and to a varying degree. The report identifies and analyzes the vulnerabilities of the 50 most fragile countries in each of the dimensions.

Reducing poverty will depend on success in building resilient institutions, yet the report says that support to legitimate politics, justice and security in fragile states is very low. For example, in 2012 only 1.4 per cent of Official Development Assistance was spent on security sector reform in fragile states.

Pedro Conceicao, Director of Strategic Policy in UNDP's Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, welcomed the OECD’s new approach to assessing vulnerability. He said that “it is positive to move beyond placing countries on a list of fragile states to consider, instead, the dimensions of fragility that can exist in any country.”

“Shocks derail development, and the international community often compartmentalizes the way we deal with shocks, such as conflict, disasters and pandemics,” Conceicao said. “But we need to more fundamentally explore why some societies are more vulnerable than others to multiple shocks.”

The report contributes to the broader debate to define and implement post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It points out that addressing fragility in the new framework will be crucial if strides in reducing poverty are to be made. It argues in favour of the proposed SDG 16 – promoting peaceful and inclusive societies – which aims to reduce violence of all forms.

Even though conflict can have devastating effects in damaging a society’s development prospects, the universal character of the post-2015 development framework, calls for a broader understanding of fragility, risk and vulnerability.

“Even if countries do everything right, they are still vulnerable to shocks,” Conceicao said.

New thinking needed on Financing for Development
In addition, Conceicao said the report’s findings can inform the debate on the outcome of the third International Conference on Financing for Development, which will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13 to 16 July 2015. Official Development Assistance will remain critical in the post-2015 period, particularly in situations of fragility. However, the demands of the post-2015 agenda and the range of challenges that it seeks to address require international public finance beyond official aid.

"Financing for development in the post-2015 era cannot be considered only in the context of stable times,” Conceicao said. “Achieving sustainable development will be impossible unless nations and communities are resilient, able to anticipate, shape and adapt to the many shocks and challenges they face.”

The report concludes that making headway on the proposed SDG targets will require building a new portfolio of tools and interventions, and an understanding of the role the international community should and can play in assisting this process.

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