Fragility and conflict are a significant challenge to development and constrain efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1, which aims to end poverty by 2030. In developing countries, conflict has stunted gross domestic product (GDP) growth and is one of the leading causes of humanitarian crises.
While there are fewer large-scale conflicts, other forms of conflict continue to exacerbate fragility. For example, the shift from inter-state to intra-state conflict, and the emergence of security threats such as terrorism, ethnic cleansing, use of nuclear weapons, marginalized groups and tribal clashes. In addition, factors such as climate change, rising inequality, demographic change, new technologies and illicit financial flows have exacerbated fragility in developing countries which has led to forced displacement and refugee problems. Consequently, in 2018 the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that close to 60 million people in countries such as Venezuela, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic were either refugees, internally displaced people (IDP) or asylum-seekers. These threats call for different approaches to tackling weak institutions, poverty, inequality and exclusion, which are among the main drivers of fragility and conflict.
These approaches should take the form of equitable service provision (e.g. in education and healthcare), institutional building and strengthening (both national and multilateral) and the provision of necessary infrastructure. Practice has shown that financing livelihood programs can be a basis for promotion of social cohesion and peacebuilding between various ethnic groups and religious affiliations. Also, improving access to education and retention of children in schools, especially girls, has been shown to be an effective tool for peacebuilding and social cohesion.
In addition, building of schools, the provision of support infrastructure such as toilets, drinking water, boundary walls, solar panels, electricity, blackboards and furniture are key instruments to support reconstruction, rehabilitation, reforms and other interventions needed to build peace and create the conditions for sustainable development in the aftermath of a conflict.
Moreover, increasing opportunities for participation in community development activities and access to basic infrastructure, services and employment can build national capacity to provide settlements for refugees and IDPs. Also, devolved governance structures such as decentralization, local government systems and inter-governmental fiscal transfers have been shown to enhance government’s capacity to provide basic services to the most underserved communities. This helps to build trust and legitimacy to advance the country’s development agenda in the aftermath of a war.
In this context, the PEGNet conference 2020 will provide a platform for leading development scholars, practitioners and policy-makers to reflect on the determinants and consequences of conflict and fragility in developing countries. In addition, the conference will seek to understand the solutions to these challenges and provide answers to questions such as:
- What are the causes of fragility and conflict within and between countries?
- How do we develop and implement policy and financing options for the forced displacement crisis?
- How do we involve non-state actors such as the private sector in developing innovative financing solution for situations of fragility, conflict, and violence?
- How do we reduce state fragility and how do we rapidly respond to protracted and recurring crises?
- How do we build strong partnerships for sustainable peace and development with humanitarian, security, diplomatic, and development actors?
- How do we ensure equity in service provision (e.g. in education and healthcare)?
- How do we strengthen both national and multilateral institutions to provide the necessary infrastructure?
- Philip Verwimp (Université libre de Bruxelles)
- Amma Panin (University of Louvain)
The conference will provide a platform for high-level dialogue and exchange of ideas between development researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. The two conference days will feature parallel sessions based on invited and contributed papers as well as project presentations. In addition, the PEGNet Best Practice Award will be awarded for the eleventh time to a best practice in cooperation between researchers and practitioners. While plenary sessions will focus on the conference theme, parallel sessions and Best Practice Award projects are open to all topics surrounding PEGNet’s core theme – the nexus between poverty reduction, equity, and growth.
The conference is co-organised by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and supported by the KfW Development Bank.