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Figure 1 - Fragility Forum Session Participants (in order of their address from left to right)
Introducing the session’s core theme
The World Bank’s biennial Fragility Forum took place from the 7-15th March 2022 with a central theme “Development and Peace in Uncertain Times”. This event brought together public and private sector experts including policymakers and practitioners focused on humanitarian, development, peace and security fields.
On the 14th of March 2022, a virtual session took place addressing the Compound Risks of Fragility and Climate Change, co-organised by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), included panellists with practical expertise in the following three fields: climate change adaptation, disaster risk management and peace building.
Dr Rebecca Nadin, Director of Global Risks and Resilience at ODI and moderator of the session introduced the theme “Addressing the Compound Risks of Fragility and Climate Change”. She highlighted that currently eighty percent of people affected by natural hazards live in fragile and conflict affected contexts. Natural resource scarcity and environmental degradation is exacerbated by structural fragility, political marginalisation, unclear land tenure and issues of weak governance.
As such, this exchange sought to highlight how to operationally bring conflict sensitive disaster risk management and climate adaptation into humanitarian and development approaches in an effort of building resilience in dynamic, fragile and conflict-affected contexts.
Keynote speeches highlighting the intersection of fragility and climate change
The first keynote address opening the event was held by Mr. Jochen Flasbarth the State Secretary from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). His address began by elaborating on the interlinkages between climate change and fragility by stating: “Fragility is not limited to local and regional contexts; it is a global challenge. Fragility is, in my view, the biggest obstacle to achieving our Sustainable Development Goals.” Climate change accelerates the challenges faced with fragility and communities in fragile situations are at higher risk of violent conflict stemming from climate-induced disasters. Mr. Flasbarth stated that fragility requires an integrated approach and outlined proceeded to outline the BMZ’s three key criteria: synergies, prevention and local capacities.
The second keynote address was carried out by Finda Koroma, Vice President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Mrs. Koroma highlighted the negative effects climate change has had upon the Western African region; the spread of disease, degradation of biodiversity and ecosystems, increasing droughts, decreasing coastline, seasonal drying up of rivers such as the Lake Chad Basin. Adaptation and climate change mitigation proves difficult in fragile states. She highlighted the need to invest in governance and local development, adopt holistic national strategic plans aligned with regional and international programmes addressing climate change, increase capacity building, strengthen the resilience of vulnerable people, and promote human rights and gender. She stated that: “Women, who make up 80% of the world’s environmentally displaced people, are more likely to be affected by natural disasters.”
Open discussion amongst panellists
Following the keynote speeches, the session moderator, Dr. Nadin, opened the floor to the panellists to offer their expertise on the topic through the following question: What are we currently doing to address both climate risks and drivers of conflict and fragility? And what lessons have we learnt?
Mr. Niels Holm-Nielsen, Programme Manager of the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR), took the floor and stated the DRR contributes through its technical capacity and mobilisation of grant resources to provide technical input related to risk management in fragile environments. This is done in the wider organisational context of the World Bank Group through tools such as the Risk and Resilience Assessment. A key aspect integrated into DRR’s forward looking disaster risk management strategies is the adaption of technical knowledge and resources in both high and low-capacity contexts to maximise impact. A key lesson learned is the need for flexibility; fragile contexts often require adjustments to be made due to unforeseen events - this has improved cooperation and coordination with CSO’s.
Catherine Wong, a Policy Specialist in Climate and Security Risks at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) took the floor and highlighted that causality tends to be the point of focus within the Climate Change, Peace and Security nexus, however there is a need to focus on operational responses. Mrs. Wong stated: “We have not yet seen global climate governance addressing peace and security risks of climate change”. She emphasised the need to climate proof prevention, piece-building and post-stabilisation as well as addressing the linkages between conflict, fragility and climate change.
Dieter Rothenberger, Head of the Water Policy-Innovations for Resilience (WaPo-Re) Programme at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) was given the floor to present the Frexus Project from a programme perspective. The Frexus project adopts a different approach aiming to find synergies between different sectors and between conflict sensitive and climate sensitive management of land natural resources and ecosystems with a strong focus on communities, in particular youth and women. “The Frexus project aims to improve security and resilience in a fragile context through the Water Energy and Food Nexus.”
A core objective of the project is establishing a clear picture of how natural resources, climate change, and conflict are linked to effectively find peace drivers as entry points to find solutions that can be implemented within the scope of the project. In addition to the baseline studies and climate risk analyses that were conducted within the three countries of intervention, Chad, Mali and Niger a global analytical has been developed to forecast conflicts over the next 12 months. Key drivers are developed through a local analytical tool co-developed by the Frexus project and local community groups in a participatory process with local communities (herders and farmers) to develop local, context-specific solutions and most importantly a common vision. A key lesson learned is the need for a co-creation process to identify the needed interventions at a local level.
Concluding the session, Dr. Nadin highlighted the need to shift the narrative to focus on fragilities and vulnerabilities to better identify entry points to address immediate and long-term needs. The panellists identified different manners in which these gaps can be bridged:
- Mobilising best available knowledge, tools and climate and disaster risk management globally
- Focus on the four P delivery model: Programming. Policy. Personal. Partnership
- Linking tools and local knowledge to generate credible data information for decision making and tailored implementation
- Develop joint risk assessments and analyses of different sectors (i.e.: water energy food)
- Develop partnerships on both a global and local level
- Bridge the silos among different institutions to better climate security mechanisms
The full session is available to watch below.