World Humanitarian Summit Global Consultation, Geneva

Published on 14 October 2015

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, 

The humanitarian system is not broken, but it is certainly stretched – and set to become even more so. The demands of humanitarian crises facing the world are unprecedented and the number, scale and severity of emergencies exceed our joint preparedness and response capacity. As a result, despite record contributions from donors, the funding gap for humanitarian assistance was US$7.5 billion in 2014. 

The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) is an opportunity to agree necessary reforms to humanitarian financing and to generate additional resources. WFP welcomes the emphasis placed in the Synthesis Report on finance - as one of five major areas of action - required to transform the humanitarian system. 
Here are five proposals that WFP believes will contribute most effectively to closing the gap in humanitarian financing. 

First, WFP echoes the call in the Synthesis Report for integrating national capacity strengthening in all humanitarian and development work. While international actors can support countries in managing disasters, it is national and local actors who first and foremost require stronger capacity for preparedness and response. With sufficient, flexible and multi-year funding, international humanitarian actors can invest more systematically in developing such capacity. 

Second, we must expand contingent financing mechanisms for disasters. Contingent financing mechanisms for natural disasters provide greater predictability of resources in the immediate aftermath of a shock and should be rapidly expanded. Multi-country risk pooling, as successfully piloted by the African Risk Capacity, and innovative financing mechanisms like forecast-based financing, which reduce the human impact of the disaster as well as response costs, can help to relieve international aid budgets and place affected countries and regions at the centre of preparedness and response. 

Third, WFP supports the call for a redefinition of parameters for usage of development funding. In 2014, 60 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes. Caring for displaced populations must be considered a global public good, and refugee-hosting countries should be supported. In particular, the international community should increase the use, scope and eligibility of the IDA and other development financing mechanisms to support refugee hosting countries, and complement humanitarian responses to a greater extent and in a broader set of circumstances. The joint financing mechanisms proposed by the UN Secretary-General and the Presidents of the World Bank and Islamic Development Bank Group launched last week is an important initiative to help countries hosting significant refugee populations achieve economic recovery. 

Fourth, WFP strongly supports the Synthesis Report’s call for a shift towards multi-year planning and funding for protracted political crises. Humanitarian funding is designed to deliver rapid, short-term responses to sudden onset emergencies, whereas the majority of people we seek to assist with this funding are in chronic or protracted conflict-induced situations which require comprehensive solutions beyond the humanitarian sector. Donors and humanitarian actors should engage in a structured dialogue on the expected level and duration of humanitarian requirements. Based on a medium-term outlook of needs, donors should support the work of humanitarian actors with more flexible, predictable and sustainable funding. 

Fifth, all humanitarian actors must look for new system-wide opportunities to ensure that assistance provided maximises effectiveness and represents maximum value for money. This can be achieved by reviewing cost structures, integrating cash-based programming into humanitarian response, and identifying opportunities for savings, especially in overheads and programme support costs. WFP enables the humanitarian community to deliver in a much more cost- and time-effective way through the Logistics Cluster, the United Nations Humanitarian Air Services, United Nations Humanitarian Response Depots and Emergency Telecommunications Cluster. 

Finally, in order to realize Agenda 2030, humanitarian and development funding must transcend institutional and budgetary boundaries to jointly pursue outcomes that save lives and livelihoods while building the resilience of affected populations. WFP believes the WHS should mark the transition to a business model that can deliver flexible, multi-year financing of resilience strategies at the national level. WFP calls for agencies and Member States alike to accept transformative change in the global financial architecture that governs the international humanitarian and development system. We hope that the discussions over the next few days will bring forth more concrete ideas that will feed into agenda for the WHS in Istanbul in May 2016.