9 October 2018
Post-Conflict, Fragile States Exchange Lessons on Economic Resilience
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

An event organized by Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste and the g7+ Secretariat shared the experiences of conflict-affected and fragile countries in their pursuit of peace, inclusivity and economic resilience.

The g7+ is a voluntary intergovernmental organization of 20 countries that have been affected by conflict and fragility.

Speakers highlighted the importance of strong institutions, predictable policy frameworks, finance and political resolve as being key to maintaining peace and economic resilience.

28 September 2018: Conflict-affected and fragile countries shared their experiences in pursuing peace, inclusivity and economic resilience, during an event held in the margins of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Organized by the permanent missions of Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste and the g7+ Secretariat, the event focused on ways for g7+ member countries to exchange with non-members on lessons in building resilience.

Moderated by journalist Prue Clark, panelists outlined how peaceful economies have transitioned in post-conflict environments. Nabeela F. Tunis, Sierra Leone, highlighted the importance of maintaining resolve in sustaining a peace agenda, particularly in the face of adversity. She outlined Sierra Leone’s struggles with the Ebola outbreak and crash in iron ore prices, which left the economy “shattered overnight.” To overcome such challenges, she noted the role of strong institutions and context-specific interventions that can bolster state-led partnerships in line with national development plans.

Milena Pirez, Timor-Leste, emphasized that economic resilience is at the core of achieving sustained peace. Pirez noted that in her country, stability undermined by crisis in 2006 was restored through social inclusion and addressing inequalities, as well as through strengthening institutions. Looking ahead to 2030, Timor-Leste has harmonized its strategic development plan with the SDGs and is taking measures to diversify its economy away from the oil industry. As a least developed country (LDC), Pirez pointed to finance as crucial, noting that proceeds from the country’s petroleum fund are invested in infrastructure and used to attract foreign investment.

Delivering remarks behalf of the UN Secretary-General, Elliott Harris, UN Chief Economist, cautioned that countries remain fragile even after conflicts are resolved. In these situations, he noted, a balance must be struck between achieving quick gains, restoring the state, and spurring sustainable development. Harris also outlined challenges such as low national budgets, narrow fiscal space, low revenue mobilization capacity and extensive debt, all of which can lead to a “heavily constrained” decision-making space.

Additional constraints to development, noted by Pierre Somse, Central African Republic, include destroyed road networks and poor security, which he lamented make it difficult to provide health services in the country, and contribute to the country featuring among the highest child and maternal mortality rates in the world. Somse cited Gavi as a successful health initiative, noting the broader importance of co-investing.

A significant portion of the world’s inadequate SDG progress lies in fragile states, and resources are not being directed there.

Mi-kyung Lee, Republic of Korea, described the country’s investment strategy as built upon three pillars: people, peace and prosperity. She said the country’s successful development was due to these investments in human and social capital and democracy, backed by a predictable policy framework.

Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada, described aid’s catalytic role in fostering economic resilience. She cited the principles of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States that was endorsed at the 4th High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2011. This New Deal, she stressed, provides a framework for donors to sustain peace through job creation and women’s economic empowerment. Bibeau flagged that gender is a key issue in post-conflict nations, where 40% of households are headed by women.

Alex Thier, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), raised a stern alarm from the floor, describing the week as “a wake-up call for the broader community on whether we’re making progress on the SDGs.” He said a significant portion of the world’s inadequate progress lies in fragile states, and resources are not being directed to the areas that need them most. Thier called for a renewed commitment to the New Deal to refresh political momentum, alongside joined-up support and innovative and risk-taking finance.

Floor interventions by Portugal and Sweden flagged that fragility can have spillover effects, and highlighted linkages to SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). On finance, Sweden also noted challenges around taxation in fragile states.

Established in 2010, the g7+ is a voluntary intergovernmental organization of 20 countries that have been affected by conflict and fragility. [Event webpage] [g7+ homepage] [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]

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