Helen Clark: Speech at Closing of Resilience Development Forum

Nov 9, 2015

The Resilience Development Forum set out to affirm the critical importance of resilience to support to the Syria crisis, and to explore practical ways to make that happen. Over the course of the last two days, together we have done just that.

The Marketplace booths showcased innovations ranging from treating trauma through play experienced by children fleeing their homes, to technical innovations which improve refugee registration, services, and well-being, to establishing affordable, renewable energy technologies for refugees and host communities, and jobs and livelihoods.

We heard Ministers from the countries most affected by the Syria crisis highlighting both the unique and the shared challenges facing their countries as they host significant numbers of Syrian refugees. That set the stage for the discussion in the panels that followed.

As Antonio Guterres highlighted in the opening session, in today’s world, addressing crises in Syria and elsewhere requires humanitarian and development actors to work together. Over the past two days, we have advanced our shared thinking on that.

As our host Minister Fakhoury highlighted, the Syrian crisis is a global issue which demands global solutions and global solidarity. When I met His Majesty King Abdullah II today, he shared his view that we must think more holistically about the humanitarian, development, and security nexus.

What has emerged from this Forum is a better understanding of the key issues which constitute the backbone of a Dead Sea Resilience Agenda, namely:

- The resilience approach needs to be an integral part of support provided to Syrians inside Syria and in neighbouring countries. It is also critical to enhance the resilience of communities and countries hosting Syrians.
- International efforts should leverage and strengthen national capacities and systems to cope with, adapt to, and recover from this protracted crisis.
- It is critical that the international community look at new, multi-year financial commitments to support neighbouring countries to address the challenge of hosting very large numbers of refugees. Given limited resources, we also have to look at new pooled funding arrangements, development swaps, and other arrangements. Widening our partnerships to include IFIs and the private sector is imperative.
- The private sector is not being called upon to help refugees but rather to enable them. Public financing and aid can and should leverage private investment. As discussions today emphasized, market expansion is needed to integrate both local and displaced job seekers.
- Further to this, it is imperative that we look beyond the label of Middle Income Countries and explore avenues to expand the quantity and types of international finance available to countries affected by the Syrian crisis.
- All partners see the need to provide refugees with increased access to livelihoods, but more livelihoods are needed for host communities too. National and international partners need to look at job creation initiatives, strategies, policies, and public-private partnerships.

The Forum has been an important step in collectively identifying, articulating, and coming to a shared understanding of these critical elements for the resilience agenda going forward. We must now maintain the momentum coming from the Forum to capitalize on upcoming and planned events to advocate for the resilience agenda and to put it into action.

Moving forward, these critical elements should be considered by host governments as part of their national response plans. They should also underpin a new partnership between host governments and international partners. As was mentioned many times today, the financing of a resilience approach must match its ambition. I welcome the further discussions which took place today during the aid architecture panel on ways of making this happen. The critical elements outlined in the Dead Sea Resilience Agenda should be key factors in shaping the organization and results of the upcoming international donor conference on the Syria crisis to be hosted by the UK in partnership with Norway and Germany.

Meanwhile, I invite governments in the sub-region to continue to call on our UN Resident Co-ordinators and Country Teams to support and assist their efforts in implementing a stronger resilience agenda to safeguard and advance their own countries’ development as they continue to host very significant numbers of refugees.

Let me once again recognize the efforts of the many partners who have participated actively in broad-based country consultations facilitated by the UN Country Teams in the host communities in the region.

Finally, I thank the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for hosting us and the key donors which made this Resilience Development Forum possible. I look forward to continued partnership, dialogue, and action which will make the promising ideas of today a reality. Millions of lives and livelihoods depend on it.

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