The African Development Bank's Transition Support Department (ORTS) hosted jointly with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the launching of the 2015 edition of the OECD report States of Fragility 2015: Meeting Post-2015 Ambitions on Wednesday, April 8 in the Bank's Abidjan headquarters.
The report is in line with the findings of the Bank's High Level Panel on Fragile States that was established in 2012 under the leadership of Liberian President Johnson Sirleaf, which culminated in the report Ending conflict and building peace in Africa: A call to action. The AfDB report was released in January 2014 at the 22nd Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa. The new OECD publication builds on those findings and echoes the Bank's own understanding of fragility as "a condition of elevated risk of institutional breakdown, societal collapse or violent conflict" under its recently approved Strategy for Addressing Fragility and Building Resilience in Africa (2014-2019).
"Fragility has multiple manifestations that span a wide range of situations, from mild or transitional instability to prolonged violent conflict," said AfDB Acting Chief Economist and Vice-President Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa. "Fragility is thus the opposite side of the coin to state resilience, which is the ability of the state to manage such strains through effective institutions, processes and capacities that build legitimacy and societal cohesion. "
"This joint launching event exemplifies the type of partnership that is envisaged in the recently approved Bank Group Strategy on addressing fragility and building resilience," added Kayizzi-Mugerwa, who delivered the opening remarks on behalf of Janvier Litse, AfDB Vice-President of Operations, Country and Regional Programs and Policy.
The OECD report presents an innovative attempt to capture the diversity of risks and vulnerabilities that generate fragility in its many forms. It does so by looking at five main dimensions and assessing countries and economies in terms of 1) violence (peaceful societies); 2) access to justice for all; 3) effective, accountable and inclusive institutions; 4) economic foundations; 5) capacity to adapt to social, economic and environmental shocks and disasters.
As the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws closer, it is promising to note that extreme poverty has been halved worldwide, the OECD report notes. However, countries that are lagging behind tend to be the ones affected by issues of fragility. Against this background, this edition of the OECD report makes a compelling case that the development community has no hope of delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - the successor framework of the MDGs - unless the issues of fragility and building resilience are addressed.
In light of these challenges, Sibry Tapsoba, Director of the AfDB's Transition Support Department (formerly known as the Fragile States Facility), underscored the important role of the private sector in building resilience and social cohesion on the continent.
"We know that fragility drives informality and that particularly the youth are vulnerable in these environments," Tapsoba said. "This requires innovative approaches and we need to see how we can facilitate more private investments in these situations and ensure that they create employment."
The launching event was attended by representatives of the Bank's Regional Member Countries, numerous embassies based in Abidjan, development partners, civil society and the private sector. The participants engaged in lively discussions around the presentation of the report in the morning sessions. In the afternoon, Ambassador and Permanent Representative at the Benin Mission to the UN in New York, Jean-Francois Zinsou, delivered a speech on the Common African Position with regard to peace and security, that was discussed by the Ambassador of South Africa to Côte d'Ivoire, Vusumuzi Lawrence Sindane, and the Director of the Research Department on Peace at the Foundation Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Diénéba Doumbia.
The OECD has produced fragile states reports since 2005, documenting the financial flows to fragile and conflict-affected countries to inform international debate.