Fit for fragility? An exploration of risk stakeholders and systems inside Sida

Research reports and studies
May 2019
Nilima Gulrajani and Linnea Mills

Sweden recognises the risky nature of development work. Its 2016 Policy Framework refers specifically to the risks of political uncertainty, conflict, weak systems and institutions, and corruption. At the same time, Sweden has also committed to ways of working in fragile states that privilege flexibility, speed, context-specificity, local ownership and leadership. This study investigates whether risk management controls in the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) are simultaneously maintaining accountability for risky engagements in fragile states while still privileging flexible and adaptive ways of working.

Within this overarching objective, we distinguish four separate questions:

  • What are Swedish risk attitudes and preferences in the context of its fragile states engagement?
  • What risk stakeholders and risk management systems govern Sida?
  • Is the practice of risk management in Sida struggling to simultaneously meet accountability demands and flexibility desires? Where do the internal fault lines of the accountability/flexibility dilemma occur?
  • How might the exercise of risk management in Sida be made 'fitter' for the contexts of fragility? Can it integrate the need to act both responsibly and responsively in all risk spheres?