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Original Authors: Thomas Gass, Co-Chair of the GPEDC | Ulrika Modéer, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy.


"It is vital that much-needed support for Ukraine does not come at the expense of funding international development, prevention, peace and resilience-building efforts" write Ulrika Modéer and Thomas Gass.

Ulrika Modéer is UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy; Thomas Gass is Co-Chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development and Co-operation.

Complex, interconnected crises are the new normal. Today, the world is witnessing unprecedented challenges, with multiple countries in war and crisis including Ukraine, Yemen, Myanmar, Syria, and Afghanistan. 

Pressures from climate change and biodiversity loss are compounded by a burgeoning food crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated economies. Rising inflation and tighter financing conditions are exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis in many emerging and developing economies.

There is a rising risk of instability as a result of major reversals in hard-earned development gains. Unfortunately, the ability of countries to cope with multiple and complex crises is being eroded. About 4.1 billion people lack social protection.

Early estimates already show that the combined impact of COVID-19, inequality and commodity price hikes could result in 263 million more people living in extreme poverty in 2022. Worldwide, three out of five workers, mostly in developing countries, have lower real incomes than before the pandemic. 

It is critical that the international development community come to Ukraine’s aid. However, this must not come at the expense of funding international development, prevention, peace and resilience-building efforts.  Development and humanitarian efforts in other parts of the world must be upheld, to maintain all our chances to realise a more secure, stable, and sustainable world.

"In the run-up to the Effective Development Co-operation Summit in Geneva in December, we need to maintain a robust discussion centred on how we work together –  governments, multilateral organisations, civil society and the private sector – to strengthen trust and use all assets in the best possible way for more sustainable development impact".

The multilateral system has proven its worth over and over again, as a policy space to manage risk, and align development efforts to countries’ own priorities. We have seen development aid making a difference, when done right, from ensuring inclusive economies to promoting decent jobs, from establishing more participatory decision-making processes to promoting equality and human rights. 

Heightened geopolitical tensions place international development co-operation under stress. The international community must do all it can to ensure the crisis in Ukraine won’t become a crisis for multilateralism. Some key steps can help in this regard. 

First, a fair and inclusive global economic recovery must be safeguarded through a coordinated policy response.

As the United Nations’ 2022 Financing for Sustainable Development Report emphasised, countries will need reliable access to affordable financing from public, private, domestic and international sources for economic recovery and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Countries with high debt burdens and financial stress require urgent attention, including debt relief and restructuring. Leveraging additional resources using Official Development Assistance (ODA) and aligning private finance to the SDGs should also be a key part of the solution. The multilateral system must offer comprehensive support to these countries to navigate these turbulent times. 

Second, the international community must invest in development for crisis prevention and rapid emergence from crisis.

Prevention is the smartest investment, yet it remains undervalued. Every dollar invested in prevention saves $16 of economic loss, the World Bank estimates. With humanitarian need overwhelmingly linked to conflict and violence, prevention could also save up to $2.5 billion a year in humanitarian assistance. 

Prolonged conflict and displacement are keeping countries dependent on humanitarian assistance. The only way out of this is to ensure that development and peacebuilding needs are simultaneously addressed. In addition to immediate life-saving efforts, we must save livelihoods and cater to basic human services contributing to longer-term peace and prosperity. 

Third, ODA must retain its raison d’être – for development and poverty eradication.

Past experience has shown that ODA is indispensable in times of economic downturn. It has provided a key financing option to many developing countries as other flows dry up. Driven by political will and global solidarity, ODA has proven resilient to economic shocks. It acts as a catalyst for bringing in further external and domestic investments. 

Ultimately, development, done well, is the only lasting and cost-effective solution to a crisis over the longer term. This should be our collective concern.

In the words of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: "At a time when global conflicts are at their highest levels since the creation of the United Nations, the evidence demonstrates that investing in development is the best way to prevent crises and maintain international peace”. 


Disclaimer: This blog was original published by Euractive | Opinions | Invest in development as an effective antidote for future crisis.
Photo credit: UNOCHA/Michele Cattani | A young woman carries water in a camp for displaced people in Tillaberi region, Niger.