Helen Clark: Written Statement to the 93rd Meeting of the Development Committee

Apr 16, 2016

The 70th anniversary year of the United Nations in 2015 was a watershed year for development. United Nations Member States reached four major agreements: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030; the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development; and the new global climate change agreement at COP21 in Paris. 

Implementation of the new agendas begins in volatile times. Global growth is sluggish, and record numbers of people are affected by forced displacement. Natural disasters, exacerbated by climate change, and disease outbreaks - as seen recently with the Ebola and Zika outbreaks –are further destabilizing factor. 

The challenges of fragility and conflict are becoming increasingly complex and often spill over to neighboring countries and beyond. Around 1.4 billion people now live in fragile contexts and that number is projected to grow to 1.9 billion by 2030. Fragile environments can become fertile breeding grounds for the trafficking of people, weapons, and drugs, and/or violent extremism. 

According to UNHCR, by the end of 2014 there were around sixty million people forcibly displaced from their communities, the highest number ever recorded. Over half the world’s refugees are children. Whereas millions of international migrants cross borders safely each year, more than 5,000 migrants lost their lives in 2015.

Current humanitarian crises remain complex and long-lasting. Humanitarian aid – although growing - cannot keep pace with the rising needs. The humanitarian funding gap in 2015 was the largest ever, with 47 per cent of the UN’s inter-agency humanitarian appeals not met. 

Against this global backdrop, the United Nations Secretary-General will convene the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul on 23-24 May as a call to action to prevent and end crises, reduce risk and vulnerability, and alleviate suffering from crises.  Thus the focus of this Development Committee meeting on “forced displacement and development” is also very pertinent. 

To witness some of the challenges which the Committee will address today, the UN Secretary-General and the World Bank President went recently on a mission to Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia. The issues of large movements of refugees and migrants will also be considered by a High-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on 19 September.

Agenda 2030 – a common framework for humanitarian and development action

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a common frame of reference for both development and humanitarian work, and for advancing peaceful and inclusive societies. Its commitment to “leave no one behind” ensures that it is relevant to displaced persons and people in conflict-affected countries and fragile contexts. 

Protracted crises require business unusual: the traditional “relief first and development later” approach is not tenable in such circumstances. Humanitarian relief and emergency development initiatives must go side by side. 

Much more investment is needed to shrink the demand for humanitarian intervention – in disaster risk reduction, in support for fragile states, and in the long term investments required to build peaceful and inclusive societies. 

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development highlights the importance of financing mechanisms for the prevention and management of risks, and for strengthening the capacity of national and local actors.  

Bridging the humanitarian-development divide

In his report for the World Humanitarian Summit, the UN Secretary-General has proposed three fundamental shifts in the way the international community works in response to crises and disasters. It must reinforce national systems, and not replace them; be better at anticipating where crises might occur, and not just wait for them to happen and then trigger emergency responses; and work to transcend the humanitarian-development divide. 

Following this lead, the UN Development Group, which is also inclusive of the UN’s humanitarian agencies, is pursuing a fourfold approach. It aims at enhancing support through:

1)    Integrated approaches to analysis, planning, and programming

In order to design more comprehensive and effective responses to crises, it is critical to share an understanding of political and institutional environments and have common platforms for analysis and action. Reflecting this, the UN Secretary-General is establishing a central capacity to strengthen joint analysis and planning across the UN system. 

The Integrated Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), which brings together a broad range of partners to respond to the needs of refugees and host communities in the neighborhood of Syria, is a current example of such joint planning. The 3RP uses one common data management platform to share early warning information and undertake integrated analysis and assessments of needs in real time. The overall outcome is more effective joint planning, advocacy, information management, and monitoring.

Since 2008, under the “Joint Declaration on Post Crisis Assessments and Recovery Planning”, the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Bank have worked together to assist governments to plan for recovery after disaster or conflicts and to produce Post-Disaster and Post-Conflict Needs Assessments. Over forty such assessments have been done following disasters and around ten for recovery from conflicts. They have made a significant contribution to countries’ recovery planning, and are an example of successful partnerships which should be built on and strengthened.

Collaboration between UNDP and the World Bank on implementation of the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States should also be scaled up to ensure greater coherence and joined-up approaches in situations of conflict and fragility. New Deal processes should lead to stronger and better co-ordinated support for national development plans.

2)    Flexible development and humanitarian financing

Often development funding is suspended when a serious crisis occurs. That can mean that limited humanitarian resources must then be stretched in order to address broader needs. The early recovery niche occupied by development actors is traditionally underfunded – it falls between the two stools where it is not perceived to fit either humanitarian or development funding criteria. 

Investments in emergency development initiatives which decrease the need for relief are vital. If current trends continue, the cost of humanitarian assistance is projected to rise to at least $50 billion per year by 2030. That is not sustainable – and nor would reliance on relief alone be the most effective response.

When addressing protracted crises, a mix of actions which meet vital relief needs and strengthen the resilience of families and communities is needed. Specialized funds and pooled funds can be used, and are being used, to support coherent humanitarian and development actions in such situations. A good example is the UN Ebola Trust Fund, and the more recent World Bank – WHO proposal for a Pandemic Emergency Fund.

Grant aid cannot meet financing needs of today’s protracted crises. The innovative concessional financing facility for the MENA region, launched this week by the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, is an acknowledgment of the need for new financing approaches to address the challenges like those faced in the MENA region. This approach could serve as a model in future protracted crises in other regions as well. 

3)    Prevention and Preparedness

Currently only a small portion of ODA is invested in disaster risk reduction. According to the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, “for every $100 spent on development aid projects, just forty cents has gone into protecting countries from succumbing to natural disasters”.  The Panel also notes that twenty per cent of humanitarian financing requirements are directed to responding to recurring and sudden-onset disasters.

Investment in addressing the drivers of conflict has also been small. At this time of overwhelming demand for humanitarian responses, our focus should surely be on how the need for those responses might have been averted - had there been more investment in addressing the root causes of conflict.

Engaging women and youth is essential for effective disaster risk reduction and for crisis prevention, and peacebuilding. In this context, the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 2242 on Women, Peace, and Security is critical. The recent adoption of Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security is also recognition of the importance of promoting and supporting young people’s participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

4)    Continued development support at local level during crises 

Where there is violent conflict it can be difficult to engage fully with national governments. In these situations, strengthening local services and empowering local communities can go a long way towards strengthening resilience and ensuring that the support given is responsive and relevant to community needs. 

Ongoing livelihoods, jobs, civil protection - including from gender-based violence - access to education and to health and other basic services, such as sanitation and waste management, are very important to people during conflict and crises. The Syrian crisis, for example, presents a compelling case for continued local development actions during crises, and the UN system and other development actors are active at that level.

The UN and the World Bank Group Collaboration

This is the year when the international community must make major strides to overcome past fragmentation and work more effectively together. Resources are finite, and they need to be used more effectively, particularly if the commitment to ‘leave no one behind’ in the 2030 Agenda is to be honored. 

A strong and effective partnership between the United Nations and the World Bank has therefore never been more important. As we embark on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, we need to build on and strengthen successful areas of collaboration, in particular on the ground. 

The UN co-operates with the World Bank on many fronts to tackle challenges related to conflict, disaster, fragility, and migration. Some examples: 
•    A joint initiative to provide coherent support to the restoration of core government functions in the aftermath of conflict, which after having been applied in the Central African Republic, is now supporting the ongoing formation of the Government of National Accord in Libya and the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan;

•    The UN-World Bank Fragility and Conflict Partnership Trust Fund, which promotes closer links between political, security, development, and humanitarian efforts in fragile and conflict-affected situations. Trust fund financing has facilitated WB-UN collaboration in a range of areas, such as justice service delivery, capacity development, and aid co-ordination in Somalia, Yemen, and Jordan; 

•    The joint UN-World Bank Facility on Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC), which has provided support to the peace process in Mindanao in the Philippines. An independent review of the facility in March 2016 was positive on the utility of the partnership; and,

•    The UN and the World Bank have also been working together on a number of initiatives related to migration, such as the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) and the Global Migration Group (GMG). 

The UN and the World Bank Group collaborate on the broader financing for development (FfD) agenda, including through the Interagency Task Force on Financing for Development (IATF), which will report annually on progress in implementing the FfD outcomes and the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The deliberations of the inaugural ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up, next week (18-20 April 2016) at the United Nations in New York, will be informed by the recent IATF report. 

In this context, the United Nations welcomes today’s launch of the new Global Infrastructure Forum - one of the deliverables of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. This forum, led by the multilateral development banks, can play an important role in bringing all actors together to align new infrastructure investments with the SDGs, and to ensure availability of financing and capacity support. The United Nations has been working with the World Bank Group on this new initiative. 

The United Nations and the World Bank have also worked together on climate finance in the context of the Interagency Task Force. The Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda provide a strong foundation to ensure that all finance - public and private - is aligned with sustainable development. This important area demands strengthened collaboration between our institutions. 

We also need to explore new areas of collaboration. One such area could be to join efforts in ensuring legal identity for all, which would help countries advance on SDG 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies.

Looking ahead, the UN looks forward to the further strengthening of its partnership with the World Bank Group in support of countries’ efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

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