This year has the potential to be a turning point in the history of poverty reduction. As the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) draws closer, we are witnessing progress given that extreme poverty has been halved worldwide, although the majority of fragile states and conflict-affected countries have not met the MDG targets. It is worthy to note that the MDG framework did not address the challenges faced by fragile and conflict-affected countries nor the context within which the MDGs were being implemented in fragile situations. It is evident that 15 years on, fragile and conflict-affected countries have been left behind. In the run-up to the Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2015, the UN Secretary-General’s synthesis report puts forward “justice – promoting safe and peaceful societies, and strong institutions”, as one of the “six essential elements” for delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for post-2015. The proposed goal on justice and peace will be an important step in tackling the challenges faced in fragile environments.

For this reason, the States of Fragility 2015 is highly relevant as it underscores just how important it is to recognise the nexus between fragility and poverty. The universal character of the post-2015 development framework calls for a broader understanding of fragility, risk and vulnerability. The nature of fragility has evolved over the past decade and so must our thinking. Conflict remains unparalleled and it can reverse national development gains by more than 20 years. Recent assessments of fragility have shown that the key drivers of conflict in many of the fragile and conflict-affected countries often revolve around injustice, inequality, ethnic tensions and, in extreme cases, religious radicalisation of various kinds. Climate change, environmental disasters and pandemic diseases such as Ebola have also exposed the vulnerabilities of many countries, from small island states in the Pacific to post-conflict West African states. Weak institutions could also be a source of collapse in seemingly strong states.

This report presents a truly 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 identifying the countries and economies the most vulnerable to them. The work presents some astonishing facts, and opens up new perspectives and proposes a new course of action. A huge political push is now needed to radically improve the ways in which the New Deal principles are implemented, and to deliver results on the ground. Providers of development co-operation must reflect on the conclusions of this report, and channel their support to build peace and effective institutions in line with the national priorities of partner countries. Much research is already underway in the run-up to the UN Special Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals framework. This report stands out because of the practical tool it offers for understanding and monitoring the multidimensional nature of fragility across the globe. Given the universal aspirations of the emerging SDG framework, the model proposed in this report could be highly relevant to the work underway to develop an SDG framework that is all encompassing. For these reasons, we hope that it will be developed further to support the UN-led sustainable development agenda and the goal of promoting safe and peaceful societies and strong institutions.

Erik Solheim Chair, Development Assistance Committee (DAC), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


Dr Kaifala Marah Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Sierra Leone, Co-Chair of the International Dialogue, and Chair of the g7+ group of fragile states