Fragile-to-Fragile (or F2F) cooperation is the support that countries experiencing conflict or emerging from crisis provide to each other, including through peer learning, capacity building, and mobilization of third-party support, financial assistance or knowledge generation. A flagship program of the g7+ group of countries, F2F cooperation emerged from the sharing of experiences between and among its member countries. The members of the g7+ realized that despite their differences, they shared important commonalities that made it possible to learn from each other’s experiences and trajectories. Having faced similar challenges, they understood each other’s difficulties better.
The key driving principles of F2F cooperation are voluntarism, cooperation and solidarity. It is non-conditional and free from vested interests, whether political or economic. It also refrains from advancing or promoting any specific ideology or approach to development, or one-size-fits-all solutions. Rather, it emphasizes context specificity and country ownership, and believes in supporting the organic evolution of local responses in order to meet local challenges.
The primary aim of F2F cooperation is to help countries make progress towards peacefulness, resilience and development through the provision of mutual support. At the same time, it serves to promote a shared vision amongst the g7+ group of countries of a better and safer world for all, and it informs the global lobbying and advocacy work of the g7+ in the areas of development assistance, peacebuilding and State-building.
Since its inception as a concept and programme in 2013, F2F cooperation has expanded to include many forms and modalities. Experts and officials from across the g7+ have travelled to other member countries to assist the process of the implementation of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States (the New Deal).
Round tables and cross-country knowledge-generation exercises have been organized on such issues as the management of natural resources or the challenges of the justice sector in conflict-affected countries.
Goodwill missions aimed at facilitating reconciliation for peace have been organized to countries like the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Critical support was provided to the presidential election in Guinea-Bissau in 2014 and in the Central African Republic in 2015.
Financial assistance, delivered through the beneficiary countries’ systems, was committed to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to help address the Ebola crisis, as well as to the Central African Republic to help resettle thousands of internally displaced persons.
Having been inspired by South-South cooperation, F2F cooperation is closely aligned with it. This means that F2F cooperation can learn from the experience of South South cooperation. At the same time, F2F cooperation has its own lessons to share with the world of global development cooperation, especially concerning the importance of country-owned and country-led approaches to peacebuilding and State-building.
It is only by nurturing the State and each country’s institutions – not by bypassing or replacing them – that resilience and development can be sustainably pursued. The significance of F2F cooperation goes beyond its immediate impacts, and is also about the values and principles that it affirms, and how they relate to the global development agenda. The global development landscape has seen important developments over the last few years, including the adoption of the overarching 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustaining Peace Agenda and the New Way of Working.F2F cooperation is not only consistent with these developments, to a certain extent it has anticipated and contributed to them.
The F2F cooperation program is still in its infancy, but may already be considered a success. In addition to the direct beneficial impacts, it has led to the accumulation of considerable knowledge and experience. Among the strategic lessons that have been learned is the fact that F2F cooperation exerts its most powerful impact through its demonstration effect: when it raises global awareness around the needs of fragile and conflict affected countries, when it contributes to changing the discourse around peacebuilding and State-building, and when it applies the New Deal principles by promoting a country-owned and country-led approach.
Going forward, some of the challenges facing F2F cooperation include: better exploring the potential for triangular cooperation arrangements; reaching out to non-g7+ countries to explore avenues for collaboration; exploring the synergies between F2F and South-South cooperation; identifying additional “peace champions” from across the g7+ to facilitate mediation and reconciliation for peace in countries in conflict; and increasing the scope and impact of F2F activities.