Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, opening remarks for the inaugural session of the French National Humanitarian Conference
Paris, 22 March 2018
Mr. Le Ministre, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be here today at the French National Humanitarian Conference.
Let me begin by acknowledging the critical role that France continues to play in contributing to global humanitarian and development action as a donor and partner.
The immense scope of humanitarian challenges that the world is confronted with today, amid tight financial resources to respond, calls for a shift in how we work.
Prevention, including disaster risk reduction, is among the top priorities of the United Nations Secretary-General. Related action includes support to the development and implementation of national plans to address climate change effects, environmental degradation, urbanization and population growth, which are among the factors driving humanitarian needs.
It also includes prioritizing early warning and early action to prevent violent conflict by supporting dialogue and ensuring that United Nations’ mediation, crisis response and peacebuilding support are easily and rapidly deployable.
I laud the role of France as a troop contributing Member State for our United Nations peacekeeping missions.
During my recent visit to the Central African Republic, several interlocutors illustrated how, with the support of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), significant progress had been made in bolstering State authority beyond the capital, including through capacity-building activities for Government officials and protecting civilians.
Prevention is also about building resilience to external economic and financial shocks by helping the least-developed and most vulnerable countries.
In Somalia, connecting the strategies of the Humanitarian Response Plan and the Resilience and Recovery Framework will help to ensure that Somalis are less vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition, to natural hazards and displacement, and that they have better access to basic social services.
In Ethiopia, Government, humanitarian and development partners have jointly launched a humanitarian and disaster resilience plan in recognition of the need to shift from large-scale humanitarian assistance to a disaster risk management approach.
Where the context allows, we must respond to immediate humanitarian needs while implementing longer-term solutions to build resilience if we are to end need. We cannot wait until humanitarian crises have subsided to embark on planning and implementing activities that promote long-term solutions.
Resilience, including people’s ability to quickly bounce back and rebuild their lives in the aftermath of emergencies and disasters, is a dividend of development.
Conflicts and disasters have left tens of millions of people hungry, seeking safety and survival. But funding gaps for humanitarian action have continued to grow. In 2017 for example, donors provided record levels of funding, approaching US$14 billion to the UN-coordinated Humanitarian Response Plans, yet this represented just half of the required funds.
I am glad to note France’s partnership in the Grand Bargain initiative, an outcome of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, created to bridge this humanitarian funding gap.
The Grand Bargain is an ambitious, global, collective response, harnessing the vast experience and collective expertise across the humanitarian ecosystem, and bringing it into a realignment which is better prepared for tackling the emergency needs of tens of millions of people.
A gender-sensitive approach to humanitarian work, considering the different needs of women, girls, boys and men, is essential to addressing the longer-term implications of programming for the transition to development.
The Grand Bargain also galvanizes new partnerships that bring additional capabilities and resources to crisis-affected states, and fosters innovative partnerships, including providing platforms for South-South cooperation, engaging the private sector and facilitating the use of innovative methods and technologies.
In several countries that are grappling with protracted crises, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, humanitarian response is now being planned through multi-year frameworks to allow for greater linkages with development.
More predictable, longer-term and flexible financing, including increased nonearmarked funding will enhance programme effectiveness. I applaud France for its decision to increase its Official Development Assistance towards the 0.7 per cent of the GNI, and encourage a further increase of its humanitarian funding.
Of course, the best way to tackle humanitarian crises is to address their root causes.
This requires the highest level of global political leadership to prevent and resolve conflicts, and increase investment in the most vulnerable communities and countries. Prevention is the best investment in humanity.