Tough times call for creative approaches – UNDP, NEF and AGF collaborate to organize a side event on innovative financing to support displaced Syrians and their host communities

May 29, 2024
Photo: UNDP Syria

New York/Amman/ London/ Abu Dhabi/ Brussels - The Syria crisis continues to be one of the largest and most protracted displacement crises globally. According to the 2024 Regional Strategic Overview of the Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP), in 2024, over 19 million refugees and their host communities in Türkiye, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt will require some form of assistance. Refugee and host community youth are grappling with poverty and numerous obstacles to accessing education and decent work opportunities that could potentially lead to social instability.

The increased needs are over-stretching traditional donor funding, amplifying the need to diversify funding sources and leverage the private sector and philanthropies’ capabilities to address the complex socio-economic challenges posed by the region’s multitude of crises, including forced displacement. By 2030, more than $15 trillion in wealth is expected to be globally transferred from one generation to the next. This transition could accelerate addressing the multi-faceted challenges hindering the realization of SGDs' agenda in the MENA region through strategic coordination and channeling of resources for more sustainable outcomes.

To respond to this challenging situation, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Near East Foundation (NEF), and the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation (AGF) hosted a side event at the 8th Brussels conference on Syria. ‘Strengthening Resilience through Innovative and Blended Financing Solutions in the Regional Syria Crisis’ took place on 23 May 2024.

The event was attended by 150 representatives who explored lessons learned and experiences on innovative and blended financing that increase self-reliance and strengthen the resilience of refugees and their host communities.

During the discussion, panelists highlighted the importance of donors as key partners in innovative and blended financing approaches, crowding-in development finance and impact-first investment, sharing risk, and maximizing programmatic impact. The event also highlighted the growing investor appetite for scalable instruments in conflict and displacement-affected regions.

"Innovative funding instruments are crucial for tackling evolving financial challenges and crises in the Arab region and globally. By diversifying financing sources and mechanisms, we can more effectively expand support beyond immediate needs to promote longer-term resilience and self-reliance among affected populations and communities," said Abdallah Al Dardari, Regional Director, Regional Bureau for Arab States, UNDP.

During the discussions and presentations, the role of innovative financing solutions in advancing contributions toward strengthening the resilience agenda was exemplified and stressed. By diversifying financing sources and mechanisms, these vehicles can expand support beyond immediate needs to promote longer-term resilience and self-reliance among affected population groups and communities.

“Innovative finance vehicles, such as development impact bonds and impact investment facilities, offer replicable approaches to development financing in complex settings that focus on lasting outcomes, localized and flexible approaches, and transformative impact. NEF is delighted to share insights and learnings from the first refugee impact bond in Jordan and other regional vehicles and is excited to scale this success going forward,” said Rabih Yazbeck, Senior Vice President for Programs and Impact at NEF.

The discussion highlighted the shift from traditional giving to strategic philanthropy and the role it is actively playing in addressing the current challenges at the system level, for a more sustainable impact and acceleration of the realization of SDGs agenda. 

“Philanthropies play a catalytic role in helping to test and scale up innovative solutions in challenging contexts. AGF will continue leveraging its convening role to bring on board the strategic partners and key stakeholders for a wider outreach to the Arab youth and to positively impact their employability for better livelihoods,” said Danah Dajani, Senior Vice President for Partnerships and Programs, The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation.

Representatives from UNDP, NEF and AGF, the World Bank, financial experts, donors, civil society, and other stakeholders also provided insightful contributions and interventions following the panel discussion and a subsequent Q&A session.

Contact Information 

Communication Advisor | Regional Bureau for Arab States |