Fragility poses a major global threat to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2016, more countries experienced some form of violent conflict than at any time in the past 30 years. Close to 26 000 people died from terrorist attacks and 560 000 people lost their lives because of violence. The number of displaced people in the world is the highest since the end of the Second World War. Last year, the world faced four concurrent famines.

At the heart of this catalogue of human suffering is fragility. Each crippling number demonstrates how critically important it is that the international community strive even harder to better understand, anticipate and respond to both the drivers and consequences of fragility.

This report shows that, without action, more than 80% of the world’s poorest will be living in fragile contexts by 2030. This means that development actors across many sectors will need to better grasp the unique challenges of development in fragile contexts if the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals are to be met. Moreover, just 2% of total gross official development assistance (ODA) went to conflict prevention and associated activities in 2016. We know that conflict can reverse decades of development progress, at the same time reinforcing those very dynamics that led to conflict in the first place.

We also know that development co-operation can have a positive impact, not only by building resilience to fragility but also by improving the lives of the girls, boys, women and men who live in fragile environments. In order to change course, we have to do better. ODA is a powerful tool in addressing fragility and it is one of the few financial flows that fragile contexts can depend upon.

How development actors choose to allocate their funds can make a difference. ODA is still too concentrated in a handful of places and is not always well-aligned to the unique and multidimensional needs of fragile contexts. There is also room for improvement when it comes to co-ordinating different financial flows in fragile contexts and to combining humanitarian assistance with long-term development finance and private capital, to maximise their value and impact.

This report explores these and other issues related to the state of fragility in the world today, the state of the financing now available for fragile contexts and what these findings mean for how we can more effectively address fragility in all of its complexity. Following on the breakthrough States of Fragility report of 2016, States of Fragility 2018 continues to evolve the innovative concept of multidimensional fragility, exemplified in the OECD fragility framework that captures risks and coping capacities across five dimensions.

People living in fragile contexts are already at risk of being left behind, in an era where we all promised that no-one would be. If the member countries of the Development Assistance Committee are to keep their promise, fragility must remain a focus of development policies and practice until 2030 and beyond. The OECD will provide the policy-relevant data and analysis to support the entire development community in its efforts to sustain peace and support sustainable development.


Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, OECD,

Chair, Development Assistance Committee (DAC)



Jorge Moreira da Silva, OECD,

Director, Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD)

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