The Institute for Economics and Peace concludes every dollar spent on peace-building could reduce the costs of conflict by $16. Additional research suggests that investing in conflict prevention is, on average, 60 times less costly than military intervention and post-conflict reconstruction. Despite the mounting evidence that conflict prevention is the smart, humane and effective alternative to post-conflict response efforts, global investment in prevention measures remains insufficient.

In 2016, it amounted to only 2 percent of official development assistance to fragile countries, according to our own analysis. This year, Guterres called for a quantum leap in contributions to the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, to $500 million annually from the current investment of $93 million. So far, governments have provided just $40 million — 8 percent of Guterres’s request. The remaining amount is a mere fraction of what the U.N., the United States and other global leaders will have to spend if more countries dissolve into conflict and war.

As global leaders convene in New York next week to address the world’s most pressing security challenges, including the crisis in Yemen and impending battle for Idlib in Syria, they must resist the temptation to focus solely on current crises while downplaying or avoiding discussions of their underlying causes. Conflict prevention must be our primary responsibility to humanity. As a global community, we will be unable to tackle the other challenges of our time – addressing the unprecedented refugee crisis, ending poverty and reducing hunger — without first preventing violence before it begins. Let’s learn from the crises in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere and take action now to ward off the next violent conflict.