More than a quarter of World Bank members are countries with a population under 1.5 million. These countries vary greatly in their level of development and in the size of their economies. They are also spread out geographically, with most of them clustered in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Africa. Despite their diversity, these countries share a common set of development challenges: vulnerability to economic shocks and income volatility, limited capacity, difficulty accessing external capital, limited competitiveness, and susceptibility to natural disasters and climate change.
The World Bank tailors its assistance to the unique challenges of small states, drawing on an array of financial products and knowledge and learning services. Tailored country and regional programs help small states assess social and structural sources of vulnerability, address underlying policy and institutional weaknesses, and respond to and manage shocks. In addition, the World Bank works closely with small states to generate and share in-depth analysis on specific local challenges.
(See also Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience.) The World Bank supports social development by listening to poor people and promoting their voices in the development process; understanding and addressing their needs, priorities, and aspirations; and building formal and informal institutions. The Bank takes a bottom-up approach to development that brings voices of the underprivileged into the otherwise top-down development process. To promote social development, the Bank makes substantial evidence-based policy and program contributions through:
• Undertaking better and timelier social and political risk analysis, including poverty and social impact analyses
• Mainstreaming fragility and conflict sensitivity and responsiveness into analysis and operations
• Building a greater understanding of the resilience of communities and institutions to a range of natural and manmade shocks, whether they are economic crises, climate change, natural disasters, or violent conflict
• Promoting gender-differentiated social and economic empowerment programming for youth
• Strengthening links between citizens and their government representatives and promoting more accountable government structures
• Empowering communities in rural and urban settings by transferring the control over development decisions and resources for poverty reduction to the communities through a community-driven development approach
• Enhancing positive impacts, mitigating negative impacts, and managing social and political risks, including compliance with the Bank's social safeguard policies on indigenous peoples and involuntary resettlement
• Mainstreaming gender concerns and ensuring that operations are gender informed