World Humanitarian Summit Series

  • How can we 'fix' disaster recovery?
    Jun 7, 2017

    Deficient recovery is imperiling sustainable development, and leaving millions of the most vulnerable behind. The link between poverty and disasters is becoming clearer – new research shows that extreme weather events alone are pushing up to 26 million people into poverty every year. With forces like climate change, urban expansion, and population growth driving this trend, annual losses have passed more than $500 billion annually, and show no signs of slowing. With limited time and resources, however, adequate preparedness for these common events is often neglected in developing countries. The result is a pattern of deficient recovery that is imperiling sustainable development, and leaving millions of the most vulnerable behind.

  •   Addressing climate-induced risks in an urbanizing world
    May 12, 2017

    Having lived my entire life in big cities, I always had a feeling that cities were safe from the vagaries of disasters -- which occurred in some distant rural area and never closer to home. Once in a while, incidents like rainfall induced flooding or mild earthquake shakings, which disrupted day-to-day life for some time, were shrugged off as one-off events. The sense of invincibility of the urban lives and livelihoods remained.

  • Oceans of data, islands of databases
    May 8, 2017

    I am currently in the Solomon Islands, on my second mission in the Pacific Islands this year, and I am now certain that I will be back in Papua New Guinea in less than a month. Since Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and Cyclone Winston in Fiji (2015/2016), my engagement as UNDP advisor on disaster risk reduction and recovery in the Pacific has increased. For UNDP colleagues based in the Pacific, I hear that there has not been any pause in crisis response since 2014. What does this trend mean? What do we foresee in the future? Where do we get the information to guide our organization’s strategy and programmes?

  • Integrating climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction
    May 5, 2017

    As the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction soon gets underway, the world is witnessing the highest levels of famine risk in decades. While war and conflict stand as a major root cause of the crisis in the Middle East and Africa, climate change is a key “enhancer” of the humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes. Supporting UNDP’s climate change actions in the Arab region, I experience first-hand how an integrated approach to climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) is needed more than ever. Both share a focus on risk-informed development and preventing the worst impacts of climatic disasters from emerging. They have a common objective to build the resilience of communities so they can withstand and bounce back from crisis. Recent years have seen devastating impacts of more frequent and severe droughts from Syria and Iraq to Somalia and Sudan. Some studies now show that the region may face multi-year mega-droughts in the future as the region’s climate shifts to a ‘new normal’.

  • A humanitarian crossroads: Why climate resilience is key to avoiding future food crises
    May 3, 2017

    The world is seeing its worst humanitarian crisis since 1945. Right now, over 20 million people are at risk of starvation. We are at a crossroads. The current food crisis can very easily be linked to changes in climate and a lack of resilient systems that can withstand drought, flood, changing rains and other impacts that are leaving people without crops, without money and without food to feed their families. Immediate humanitarian aid is needed for hard-hit nations like Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. But the work does not stop there. We need to continue our efforts to build more climate-resilient nations, where changes in climate don't spell disaster and leave children starving, where proactive - rather than reactive - steps are taken to support vulnerable people in breaking the cycle of poverty, and where leaders and institutions have the capacity, skills, training and resources they need to make sure humanitarian crises like this do not repeat themselves.

  • Addressing radicalization and violent extremism through climate action
    Nov 14, 2016

    Climate change and violent extremism will be two of the major threats to the stability of states and societies in the next decades. In many countries in the continent (Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, etc.) climate change has significantly increased instability by over-stretching the already limited capacity of governments to respond. Boko Haram and Al Shabab threats and attacks in West and East Africa, continued fragility in Central African Republic (CAR) and renewed instability in Burundi and South Sudan are among some of the conflicts that contribute to this fragility cycle. It’s estimated that there have been over 4000 terrorist attacks since 2011 in Africa and 24,000 people killed. Some 2.8 million people are displaced in the Lake Chad Basin alone, and 700,000 Somalis are languishing in refugee camps. Violent extremism is currently devastating economies in the Sahel, Horn of Africa and Lake Chad Basin. For these and other fragile contexts, adding climate change as a ‘threat multiplier and shock accelerator’ triggers further frustration, tension and conflict. It is worth exploring how a changing climate and its impacts on the continent are contributing to exacerbating radicalization on the African continent.

  • A new Global Alliance to 'think urban' in humanitarian response
    Jun 3, 2016

    The humanitarian situation is changing. There are now more refugees and internally displaced persons than at any time since the end of the Second World War and 60 percent of these are in urban areas. We need to ‘think urban’ when we design our responses to these increasing crises. Rapid and poorly planned urbanization is driving vulnerability in towns and cities around the world. Humanitarian emergencies are increasingly occurring in towns and cities. Responding to this reality requires new ways of working. Major international humanitarian responses are often not closely tied to local municipal actors that understand their communities’ ongoing needs.

  • Changing the discourse on humanitarian innovations and partnerships
    Jun 1, 2016

    How can new data sources and real-time information systems improve decision-making? This is a question UNDP and its partners, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and Datapop Alliance, were asking at a side-event at the World Humanitarian Summit, together with the Governments of Denmark and Finland, which fund innovation in UN agencies. Innovation and data are important themes in humanitarian relief, as well as in the larger Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda. It underpins the entire agenda as a vehicle to solve wicked challenges across all the SDGs.

  • Humanitarian action makes sound business sense
    May 31, 2016

    In February, Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, resulting in loss of life, disruption to business supply chains and damage to properties. The estimated cost to the Fijian economy was US$470 million. Imagine the even greater impact to the Philippines, which is visited by an average of 20 typhoons every year, five of which are destructive. The challenges the world is facing right now are overwhelming. More than 130 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the world today. Some 60 million people have been forcibly displaced. UN-coordinated plans to provide life-saving aid and protection to the most vulnerable people require nearly US$21 billion each year.

  • Cyclone Roanu is a reminder: We must focus on preventing crises, even as we respond to them
    May 24, 2016

    As the World Humanitarian Summit unfolds and leaders discuss the humanitarian impact of rising crises and disasters, half a million people are currently displaced in Bangladesh. Cyclone Roanu pummeled the Bangladesh coastline on 21 May with 55mph winds and floodwaters several feet high. Making landfall in the country’s southeast, the cyclone brought devastation to areas unaffected by cyclones for the past 25 years. Where there used to be crops there is now salt water – the sea surrounding even the cyclone shelter.

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