fbpx Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations and Small Island Developing States: Improving ADB Operations | Asian Development Bank

Building Resilience in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations and Small Island Developing States

Building resilience in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Situations and Small Island Developing States

Addressing fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS) and supporting small island developing states (SIDS) are essential for ADB to meet its overarching objectives of Strategy 2030 goal of achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific. Despite decades of economic growth and declining poverty across Asia and the Pacific, vulnerable populations continue to be susceptible to drivers of fragility such as weak governance, climate change, and armed conflict or civil unrest. These expose populations to the full brunt of global economic shocks, pandemics, natural hazards, and other external events. ADB requires a comprehensive approach to address the drivers of fragility, otherwise pockets of vulnerability will remain and those most in need will continue to be excluded from regional development gains. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has added urgency to this task. The pandemic has exposed the frailty of development success and shown how quickly hard-won progress on poverty can be reversed. Supporting at-risk developing member countries (DMCs) to rebound economically while safeguarding prior development gains is a key challenge for ADB moving forward.

The FCAS and SIDS Approach

The FCAS and SIDS Approach (FSA) ensures that ADB operations will address lagging areas and pockets of poverty and fragility across DMCs. The FSA provides a framework for consistent analysis of FCAS and SIDS, promotes the use of contextual knowledge, encourages the adoption of innovative technologies, and combines expertise across regions, sectors, and themes to deliver integrated solutions. The FSA entails tailoring existing ADB processes and procedures to ensure that they are sufficiently flexible to respond to the challenges of working in FCAS and SIDS environments.

The FSA Implementation Pillars

The FSA introduces fragility and resilience assessments for improving ADB project planning, promotes increased use of knowledge analytics and tools, supports institutional capacity building in FCAS- and SIDS-related issues for DMCs and within ADB, and promotes strategic partnerships to enhance coordination at the regional and national level.

The FSA theory of change (TOC) converts problems into solutions based on causal relationships to achieve enhanced performance of ADB operations, improved project implementation by DMCs, and better development outcomes in livelihoods, inclusiveness, and resilience in FCAS, SIDS, and other pockets of fragility. The TOC comprises three pillars, each with its own outcome — Pillar 1: improving responsiveness of standard ADB processes, procedures, and practices for FCAS and SIDS differentiated approaches; Pillar 2: increasing ADB's institutional capacity for operations in FCAS and SIDS; and

Pillar 3: enhancing understanding of DMC contexts. Each pillar contains key action areas and sub-actions representing steps to achieve the outcomes. The three TOC pillars form the basis for the FCAS and SIDS Action Plan, 2021–2025.

FCAS and SIDS Groups

ADB classifies 11 countries as FCAS: Afghanistan, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Tuvalu. These countries are classified based on an assessment of quality of macroeconomic management, coherence of structural policies, degree to which policies and institutions promote equity and inclusion, quality of governance and public sector management, and performance of concessional assistance project portfolio. FCAS DMCs are generally characterized by political instability, weak governance and institutional capacity, economic and social insecurity, and greater vulnerability to the effects of climate change and natural hazards. While an FCAS designation is typically ascribed to a country, it sometimes describes a subnational territory that has been destabilized due to fragility, conflict, and violence. In Asia and the Pacific, subnational conflict is the most common type of conflict involving violence.

Small island developing states (SIDS)—as they self-identify—are a distinct group of DMCs with specific social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities, including geographic remoteness and dispersion, small populations and markets, narrowly based economies, low fiscal revenue, high import and export costs for goods, and increasing exposure to natural hazards and climate change. SIDS in Asia and the Pacific are affected by extreme fragility that can threaten lives and livelihoods, strain state capacity and service provision, and exacerbate local tensions over scarce land and other resources. Sixteen ADB DMCs are SIDS: Cook Islands, the FSM, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Maldives, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. SIDS generally share the same structural constraints, regardless of whether they also are categorized FCAS. The small size, remote locations, and narrow asset bases (often concentrated in resource extraction, agriculture, and/or tourism) of most SIDS complicate public service delivery and leave them exposed to external economic shocks, natural disasters, and the impacts of climate change, threatening lives and livelihoods and creating debt sustainability issues. For the four SIDS that are atolls, rising sea levels are an existential threat. SIDS can also be affected by instability or conflict—several Pacific SIDS have experienced periods of political instability or conflict in the 21st century. Gender inequality as both a cause and consequence of fragility and instability affects FCAS and SIDS, and some Pacific SIDS experience a high prevalence of gender-based violence.

The Evolution of ADB’s FCAS Agenda