Helen Clark: Speech at the Launch of the Financing Recovery for Resilience Report

Jul 10, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
at the
Launch of the
Financing Recovery for Resilience Report
United Nations, New York

I am very pleased to join you today for the launch of this Financing Recovery for Resilience report.

This Report examines the role which pooled financing mechanisms can play in strengthening synergies between the various sources of finance provided to fragile and conflict-affected countries. 

It comes at a critical time: more than 1.5 billion people are estimated to live in countries affected by conflict, violence, and insecurity. By 2015 it is estimated that half of the world’s population living in extreme poverty will live in fragile states where the risks and costs of violence are extremely high.

In these circumstances, the international community is challenged in meeting humanitarian needs in the short to medium term, and in the longer term too if greater resilience to disaster and the foundations of more peaceful societies are not built.

At the beginning of this year, the UN made its largest ever humanitarian appeal, requesting $12.9 billion in support for a number of fragile and conflict-affected countries. That included $6.5 billion for the crisis caused by the Syrian conflict.

As of yesterday, only 32 per cent of the humanitarian appeals for Syria and its neighbouring countries had been funded. At the same time, budget tightening has brought increasing pressure on the Official Development Assistance provided to a number of fragile and conflict-affected countries. As levels of assistance to some degree follow news headlines, distribution tends to be skewed. According to the OECD, half of total ODA in 2011 going to fragile states was directed to only seven countries.

While there has been a tragic spike in violence and conflict in recent times, longer term trends have been more encouraging. The number and magnitude of armed conflicts was estimated last year to have dropped by nearly half since the early 1990s.  It is projected that by 2050 the proportion of countries affected by non-international armed conflict could be half what it was in 2009.

Climate change, however, is one of the threats which could generate more conflict. Projections suggest that it will greatly increase the competition for scarce resources between groups and countries which has been a traditional driver of violence and conflict.

The increasingly deadly and costly natural disasters associated with climate change may also threaten stability and undermine governments. Countries can fall into a downward spiral – with a progressively growing risk of violent conflict, disaster, and development setbacks.

This is particularly true where the capacities and resources needed to respond and to prevent the worst impacts are in short supply, which is often the case in fragile and conflict-affected states.  To adapt effectively to the harsh realities of climate change and avoid the conflict and development setbacks projected from it, countries need development.

But development at the expense of the environment on which we all depend aggravates one problem while trying to solve another. Instead, integrated resilience-based approaches are needed which recognize that poverty, crisis, conflict, and environmental degradation are intertwined challenges, and need to be addressed holistically.

Synergies must be built between recovery efforts, humanitarian and development assistance, and climate finance. Today these three sources of financing are compartmentalized - operating in parallel on different timeframes and with different scope.

The Report we launch today attempts to bridge these divisions. It assesses the degree to which current practices prevent stakeholders from realizing synergies which could generate efficiencies in efforts to achieve economic, social, and environmental objectives simultaneously, and it identifies the drivers of the current compartmentalized approach. Following this analysis, it recommends a number of practical steps which development actors could take to strengthen synergies between humanitarian, development, and climate finance.

The Report concludes that the coverage, capitalization, and coherence of pooled financing mechanisms in support of recovery can be greatly enhanced. 

As inter-governmental negotiations proceed on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, the financing instruments needed to advance it need revamping. Through concerted action to align the financing instruments behind global agendas, the international community can co-ordinate its efforts better, and thereby boost the efficiency and the effectiveness of its support for fragile and conflict-affected states.

To break with current practice and realise those synergies, key actors in the development and humanitarian communities - many of whom are represented here - will need to work more closely together. Political leadership and financial support will be critical to establish incentives, shift mind-sets, and change practices. 

I am pleased to launch this Report and to confirm that the agencies and programmes represented in the UN Development Group are committed to working with Member States, development partners, and all stakeholders to take its recommendations forward.

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