Open Access World Bank Publications on Peace, Conflict, and Violence (Resources Series No. 2)

Conflict and violence have dramatic negative consequences for development and the ability of populations to emerge from poverty. At least 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by repeated cycles of political and/or criminal violence. One fifth of the extreme poor worldwide live today in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS), but this proportion could double by 2030 if current trends continue.

Peace conference

Low-income FCS countries have not been able to achieve the targets set forth in the Millennium Development Goals in part because of conflict and violence. In recognition of the impact of conflict and violence on development, the Sustainable Development Goals recently approved by the international community include a goal on promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.

Rotary’s Peace Conference

How do conflict and violence affect development, and what can be done to reduce the risks of conflict and violence and instead promote peace? These are some of the questions that will be discussed at the Rotary Presidential Conference on Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution or World Peace Conference to be held on January 15-16, 2016 in Ontario, California. The conference is one of five flagship conferences organized by Rotary International in 2015-16. The other conferences will be on disease prevention and treatment in Cannes, economic development in Cape Town, literacy and WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) in schools in Kolkata, and WASH in schools in Manila.

The World Peace Conference will include more than 80 panel and facilitated sessions as well as plenary sessions. It is expected to attract a couple of thousand participants. You are encouraged to attend, as it promises to be a great experience!

Apart from Rotary International President K. R. Ravindran and Rotary Foundation Chair Ray Klinginsmith, keynote speakers will include Sal Khan (founder and CEO of Khan Academy), Sharon Stone (Actress), Father Greg Boyle (Executive Director of Homeboy Industries), Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Director of the Peace Corps), Dr. Bernd Wollschläger (author of A German Life: Against All Odds Change is Possible), Barbara Winton (the daughter of Sir Nicholas Winton who organized the rescue of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia in 1939), Steve Killelea (Founder of the Institute for Economics and Peace), and Mary Peters (United States Ambassador).

Open Access Resources

Rotary is of course not the only organization emphasizing peace in its service and development work. Issues related to peace, fragility, conflict, and violence have been at the core of a substantial part of the work of development organizations for many years. This means that the World Bank as well as other organizations have substantial knowledge to share with researchers, practitioners, and policy makers in these areas.

As a contribution to Rotary’s World Peace Conference, this blog is providing a guide to selected open access publications from the World Bank that could help conference participants think about conflict, violence, and development. The publications listed are made available through the World Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository. The focus on resources provided by the World Bank is driven by practicality as including other organizations would yield a rather unwieldy list of available resources. At the same time, focusing on the World Bank has the advantage of being able to go global with a single organization.  In order to keep the guide manageable, the focus is on open access books as opposed to other publications such as working papers, articles, and briefs.

Selected Recent Books and Reports

You can access 45 selected World Bank books and reports published since 2010 on conflict, violence, and adversity either by downloading the guide prepared for conference participants, or by going to the Promoting peace page of this blog. The selection of the books and reports was based on the topics to be considered at Rotary’s Peace Conference. The scope of the conference is broad, with 13 parallel tracks apart from plenary sessions. The 13 tracks of the conference have been “aggregated” into 9 topics for listing World Bank publications: (1) Conflict, Development, and Trade; (2) Fighting Crime, Violence, and Terrorism; (3) Proving Services in Contexts of Adversity; (4) Middle East Region; (5) Equity and Discrimination; (6) Social Norms and Violence Against Women; (7) Jobs and Employment; (8) Education and Health, Including Role of Faith-based Providers; and finally (9) Governance and Institutions.

The hope is that the publications selected, and more generally the World Bank’s open access knowledge resources, will be useful to conference participants and others dealing directly or indirectly with issues of conflict, violence, and adversity when implementing projects in developing and developed countries alike. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if these resources are useful, or not so much so!

Climate-induced migration in the Middle East and North Africa

by Andrea Liverani and Quentin Wodon

The rise of early Nile basin civilizations can be traced back to one of the most significant climatic changes of the last 11,000 years, a period of protracted hyperaridity that led not only to North Africa’s deserts we know today, but also to a multi-generational exodus depicted in much Saharan rupestrian art.
Today the impact of climate change on migration remains a concern for policy circles. Norman Myers’s seminal work in 2001 spurred several guesstimates of future climate refugees, but these were rarely backed by solid research. The recent work by the UK Foresight Group, and the WGII/ IPCC Fifth Assessment Report represents important progress in our understanding of the issue, although country and region specifics remain lacking.

In 2009 we set out to shed some light on the relationship between climate change and migration in MENA. We fielded household surveys and qualitative research in five countries: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, and Yemen. We focused on extreme, rapid onset weather events. The study showed that:

  • Climatic events affect households’ migration decisions, with climate probably accounting for between 10% and 20% of migration today. As climatic conditions deteriorate and warming proceeds unabated, this rate is likely to increase;
  • Migration is one of many coping strategies deployed by households who are often left dealing with climate change without much community or state support;
  • Migration is mostly domestic, and towards large cities. Migrants’ remittances have a positive impact on poverty and human development for beneficiary households.

Five implications emerge from these results.

  1. Climate migration needs to be recast as a domestic policy issue. Discussions around climate migration often emphasize trans-border flows. But in the countries studied, migration is mostly internal.
  2. Both rapid and slow onset events can affect political stability. The protracted drought in Morocco in the 1980s pushed entire villages into the suburbs of the major cities and led to food security-related rioting. The four year long drought that struck Syria in 2007 led thousands to flee their villages and is often highlighted as a contributing factor to the emergence of the current conflict.
  3. Spatial development policies need to account for climate-induced migration. Climate change will exacerbate settlement abandonment in marginal areas, stranding assets in sectors such as transport, electricity, and water. Investments decisions today need to factor in the future impact that environmental change will have on the utilization of infrastructure.
  4. Policy should focus on enabling communities in sending areas to better leverage the potential benefits of migration. To provide portable skills, education and training are effective regardless of the causes, timing, and destination of the migration decisions, and benefit not only those that leave, but also those that stay through rfemittances. Better safety nets can have immediate pay-offs in the short and long run by building resilience. The coverage of these programs is thin in the region and MENA Governments could strengthen them, learning from the Sahel initiative.
  5. Responses to climate migration are to be found in receiving as much as in sending areas. Urban development is key. As argued by Soonhwa Yi here, effective insertion for migrants leads to adaptation opportunities in sending communities through remittances. Leveraging the adaptive role of remittances entails encouraging forms of de-fiscalization of remittance-funded investments and community saving schemes. As highlighted by Dilip Ratha, there is a role for the Bank and otyher development organizations in this area.

Note: this post is reproduced with minor changes from a post on the People Move blog of the World Bank available at