Sustainable development in the context of the 2030 Agenda is only possible where peace prevails. Vice versa, inclusive and sustainable development is an effective means against war and violence. People must be able to be free of fear and all forms of violence. And they must be protected by a stable legal system. Only then can their lives be considered humane and only then can they reach their full potential and drive development forward.
The war in Ukraine is showing us in Europe directly what has for years been reality in many other areas of the world. The number of violent conflicts has risen dramatically. The people in Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are still not at peace. The number of countries whose statehood has broken down has also increased: they are considered fragile. According to information from the OECD, there are currently more fragile states than at any other time in the past 30 years. Almost a quarter (23%) of the world’s population lives in fragile contexts, and for the most part in extreme poverty too. If the current trend continues, the OECD forecasts that by 2030 around 80% of the world’s poorest people will live in fragile circumstances – with grave consequences not only for those people themselves, but also the international system as a whole.
At the same time, and partly as a result of this, the number of refugees and displaced persons rose to a new record high: according to the , there were more than 89 million forcibly displaced people in 2021. This figure does not yet include refugees from the Ukraine war. The UNHCR expects more than 6 million refugees as a result of this conflict, with a rising trend. There are also more than 7 million internally displaced persons within the country. This means that almost a quarter of the population has left their home town. The speed at which a such a large number of people are being forcibly displaced is unprecedented in Europe’s recent history.
At no time since World War II has the UNHCR registered more refugees than in 2021. This situation has been compounded by the coronavirus crisis: refugees are especially vulnerable to the virus, as the camps and cramped living quarters they occupy mean that distancing and hygiene rules cannot be observed. This makes their situation even more difficult.
And the vicious circle continues. Crops are becoming scarce, as Ukraine is a growing and exporting country and India is affected by drought. Hunger and hardship – not least in many African countries – are already intensifying and will displace even more people.
Precisely because the situation has worsened globally, it is now more important than ever to prevent conflicts from escalating to violence, to combat the structural causes of conflicts and to reduce their effects, and to promote good government structures and legitimate constitutional institutions. KfW Development Bank has been working towards these aims in a variety of different ways for a long time.
Since the number of crises and conflicts has increased significantly in recent years, KfW now implements more and more projects in fragile contexts – accounting for a good fifth of total commitments in 2021. Around EUR 1.13 billion was committed for projects related to refugees, which will directly benefit over 9 million refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees and residents of host communities. With around EUR 897 million in commitments in 2021, KfW is specifically supporting the achievement of SDG 16. Furthermore, KfW is implementing projects in excess of EUR 1 billion with peace and security as a declared secondary objective. In this way, KfW is helping to alleviate hardship and create functioning general conditions for sustainable development.