UN-World Bank partnership in crisis settings: Increasing support to the most vulnerable during a devastating year

Franck Bousquet & Oscar Fernández-Taranco

Created 02/17/2021



For countries already affected by conflict and crisis, 2020 was a devastating year. The health and socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic came on top of complex and growing threats, from the regional spillover of violent extremism to the effects of climate change.  An estimated 19 to 30 million additional people in fragile and conflict-affected settings were pushed into extreme poverty, while the number of food insecure people more than doubled to 270 million globally in 2020.

Countries already threatened by conflict and crisis were among the most vulnerable to COVID-19 , not only in health terms but because such shocks tend to exploit and exacerbate socio-economic inequalities, gaps in social safety nets, weak institutional capacity and lack of public trust. It has never been more critical, therefore, to prevent escalation of violent conflict and to support governments build resilience.

2020 was also a year of enhanced partnership between the World Bank and UN in crisis-affected settings, as the new United Nations-World Bank Partnership Monitoring Report attests. The UN and World Bank Group continued to build mission-driven partnerships and to leverage their respective mandates, capacities, and expertise to further support countries in the areas of conflict prevention and resilience, COVID-19 response, forced displacement, and food security. The political and economic inclusion of women and girls, as well as climate change, are cross-cutting themes also covered in the report.

Much has happened since the release of the 2019 report, including the launch of the World Bank Group’s Strategy for Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV), in February 2020; the allocation of an estimated $26 billion for FCV in the 19th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA19); and, as part of the UN Secretary-General’s reform agenda, enhanced investments in capacity for conflict prevention and strengthening the link between peace and development actors. The latter includes the creation of a Humanitarian-Development-Peacebuilding and Partnership Facility (HDPP Facility) under the Peacebuilding Fund. These timely developments affirm a shift towards prevention and partnership in both institutions, informed by the 2018 joint UN-World Bank Group report Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict.


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