CEO Kristalina Georgieva Associates Combating Poverty with Building Peace
The Peacebuilding Commission opened its fourth annual session today, adopting a joint statement with the World Bank to reaffirm the importance of a strong relationship between the two bodies, as outlined in the newly signed United Nations-World Bank Partnership Framework for Crisis-Affected Situations.
By the text, they welcomed the commitment of the United Nations Secretary-General and World Bank President, reaffirming the importance of national ownership and leadership in peacebuilding. They also reaffirmed the work of the Peacebuilding Commission as an advisory body to promote an integrated, strategic and coherent approach to international peacebuilding efforts.
Delivering a keynote address, World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva described the long road of bringing the United Nations and World Bank together to serve the most vulnerable. Commending the Secretary-General for his relentless pursuit of peace, she stressed that last year alone, global gross domestic product (GDP) had hit $78 trillion, and technology was making it easier to fight extreme poverty. Yet, the frequency of conflict had increased. “We have to concentrate on what is it we can do together so we can make communities and countries more resilient to these shocks, and especially to the tragedy of violent conflicts,” she said.
Progress in fighting poverty had always been associated with peace, she continued. Where poverty was worsening, conflict often persisted, with the destitute crossing borders to flee desperate situations. The nature of conflict had also changed. Groups such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) were not interested in becoming legitimate Governments, nor was international humanitarian law being respected. “It is our moral duty and in our own interests to concentrate resources and attention on resolving conflict and creating peace,” she said.
Making the case for prevention, she said it was much cheaper than cure, with every $1 invested leading to $16 saved. The Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) fund had reached $75 billion and would become active on 1 July. The financial institution was ready to deploy those resources towards conflict-affected countries, and further, had more than doubled the funds available for fragile situations. It would also increase the number of staff working in those situations and partner with the United Nations to deliver investments that fostered a return to peace.
Finally, she said, donor funds would not be enough unless private investors were made comfortable to invest in areas that were otherwise seen as too risky. As such, the new IDA round included a private-sector window to bring private resources into places lacking sufficient finance. There would also be a focus on women, with a soon-to-be-launched women’s entrepreneur facility, which had already exceeded its goal of raising $200 million. No country, no organization could address the challenges alone, she said, “but together, we can make a difference”.
Opening the session under the theme “Partnerships for Financing for Peace”, United Nations Chef de Cabinet Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti said it was essential that the Organization “get better at preventing conflict”. The Secretary-General had placed prevention at the heart of his agenda. Yet, the question of how to finance prevention and peacebuilding was critical. In 2015 and 2016, the international community had spent $71 billion on United Nations peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, official development assistance (ODA) and aid to refugees in donor countries.
“We simply cannot afford to continue to spend such sums on crisis response”, she said, “and invest so little in efforts aimed at prevention.” An improved system would increase the availability and predictability of funds, enabling fast responses, with longer-term planning towards agreed outcomes.
She cited progress by the United Nations and Member States in financing gender-responsive peacebuilding, urging the Organization to recommit to the target of allocating a minimum 15 per cent of all peacebuilding funds to gender equality and women’s empowerment. She was also encouraged that the recent IDA replenishment round had resulted in the doubling of financial resources for addressing fragility, violence and conflict.
She said the Secretary-General and the World Bank President had recently signed a Partnership Framework on building the resilience of the most vulnerable, reducing poverty, enhancing food security and promoting shared prosperity. The Framework had already yielded results in Yemen, Liberia, Somalia and the Central African Republic. The United Nations was also partnering with the Bank on a flagship report on the prevention of violent conflict. Indeed, effective prevention enhanced national sovereignty by bringing together all actors and sectors. The multilateral system must be ready to activate partnerships to support such efforts politically, technically and financially, when needed, she stressed.
Cho Tae-yul, the Chair of the Commission, said recent resolutions on the review of the peacebuilding architecture reaffirmed that body’s advisory role in bringing coherence to those efforts. They also recognized the need for the United Nations to receive adequate, predictable and sustained financing, and requested the Secretary-General to present options for increasing, restructuring and better prioritizing funding.
Further, he said the Secretary-General had been asked to provide options for resourcing the peacebuilding activities of United Nations country teams, and the peacebuilding components of both peacekeeping operations and special political missions. The resolutions underscored the value of collaboration, he said, particularly in the United Nations-World Bank Partnership Framework for Crisis-Affected Situations, signed on 22 April 2017.
Along similar lines, General Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) said that the 2016 adoption by the Assembly and the Security Council of the “Sustaining Peace” resolutions signalled a shift in how the United Nations approached peace and security, acknowledging that by investing in prevention, “we may help to avert the colossal human and financial costs of conflict”.
Earlier in 2017, he had convened a high-level “Financing Lab” focused on mobilizing the enormous resources needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. The central message was that the required financing already existed, but the right incentives and frameworks must be put in place to shift investments towards their implementation.
Indeed, sustaining peace was a shared responsibility among Governments, the United Nations, civil society, international financial institutions, the private sector and grass-roots organizations. It was incumbent on everyone to explore all options for tapping into those resources, leveraging cooperation to unlock financial flows, and building strategic partnerships to ensure an integrated approach to peacebuilding on the ground.
He said more could be done to broaden and deepen the Peacebuilding Commission’s strategic partnerships, notably by bringing new partners and experts together to increase domestic resource mobilization, fight illicit financial flows and strengthen collaboration with regional financial institutions and the private sector.
Also today, the Commission held an interactive working session titled “The United Nations partnering with key stakeholders for sustained peace: Good practices and lessons learned to ensure sustainable, high-quality and long-term financing” and an afternoon session titled “Redefining partnership: The potential for increased collaboration in effective resource mobilization between the United Nations and other stakeholders”.