No one leaves home unless…
Fragile and conflict-ridden settings are on the rise globally. Indeed, the World Bank states that as many as two-thirds of the world’s poorest people could live in such environments by 2030. There are many reasons why such circumstances arise – economic or political instability, armed conflict and terrorism, as well as climate change or natural disasters.
Displacement is a major challenge that can stem from fragility, conflict or climate change. As of 2019, there are 70.8 million people worldwide who have been forced to leave their homes, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees – and developing countries are hosting many of these refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons. Increasing numbers and longer durations of displacement bring uncertainty and potential instability in hosting locations, and in the current COVID-19 pandemic there is fear that contagion could be a reality in some of the dense refugee camps in particular. Unsurprisingly, there is a growing push towards finding solutions to address the development goals for both affected communities and their hosts.
The international community is increasingly working together as part of an innovative approach that addresses the nexus of humanitarian, development and peace priorities.
As we continue to work towards sustainable development in the context of continued displacement and fragility, the transformative role of small businesses in trade must be central to the response. This will allow displacement-affected communities to be their own agents of change, moving towards creating economic self-reliance and resilience, rather than relying on aid for their livelihoods.
In this issue of Trade Forum, we give some insight into what some of the actors in this space are doing. They bring new solutions to economic development and job creation and look at the benefits and challenges that refugees and displaced communities are facing when it comes to doing business.
In our spotlight interview, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, reflects on the importance of economic inclusion for refugees and host communities from a global perspective.
This issue also highlights how Mastercard supports the role of the private sector in driving the economic inclusion of refugees, while the Norwegian Refugee Council in Kenya focuses on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus in its crucial role of coordinating humanitarian organizations.
Exploring the relationship between trade and displacement from a macro perspective, the Brookings Institution explores the potential of trade concessions to encourage formal refugee employment, while private agencies Innovest Advisory and Developing World Markets consider impact investing as a tool to mobilize finance for displacement-affected communities.
How is entrepreneurship possible in a displacement setting? 51 Labs in Iraq takes
us through the experience of being a start-up accelerator tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs in conflict-affected areas.
Finally, our interview with a former refugee who has recently returned to Somalia to open his e-commerce business sheds light on entrepreneurs on the move.
The International Trade Centre is active as well given that this area is one of our priorities. Here you will find stories of entrepreneurs and business owners accessing new opportunities and markets, despite challenging locations.
In all of our articles, you will catch a glimpse of the complex situation that displaced communities are facing. Can refugees export? Can trade contribute to increasing stability in settings of displacement? Most certainly, yes. These are complicated environments and success requires the expertise of multiple actors from different sectors. Progress takes time, but by working together, inclusive trade can have a catalysing impact.