Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller at ECOSOC Side Event on “Strengthening local capabilities for sustainable outcomes and local resilience: contribution of humanitarians.”

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 21 Jun 2018

New York, 21 June 2018

As delivered

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you to this high-level panel which will discuss the experience of local actors who are often both affected by and the first responders to humanitarian emergencies. In this context, the ‘localization’ agenda, which calls for national and local capacity to be reinforced and not replaced, has been steadily gaining momentum over the last decade.

This momentum was accelerated when over 400 commitments towards localization were made by stakeholders at the World Humanitarian Summit, and initiatives such as the Grand Bargain, Charter for Change and the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability were endorsed.

Two years since the World Humanitarian Summit, there are positive signs that local partners are being increasingly recognized, engaged, financed and empowered in humanitarian response. Evidence from the online platform to track WHS commitments shows that more international partners are shifting from the traditional direct implementation model toward a more collaborative approach that gives more space and opportunity to national and local partners to prepare for and lead response.

There is also evidence that international NGOs and UN agencies are giving increased visibility to local partners in their media publications and that national and local NGO voices are being increasingly heard in international coordination structures and global processes.

Funding to national and local actors is also increasing, with many international partners, including donors, improving their ability to track funding to local partners and make data transparent and accountable.

This is positive and necessary progress. But our progress is still too often centered around the current model of national and local partners fitting in with our international response and coordination structures, rather than international efforts complementing existing structures and capacity.

Today’s panel will seek to explore further what it would take to create change on this issue.

I hope through our discussion today we will be able to consider some of the following questions as we listen to the experience of our panel and draw from their best practice and lessons learned:

  • How do international actors – UN agencies, International NGOs and donors – better understand what existing national and local structures exist prior to a crisis?

  • How do we as the international humanitarian response system demonstrate more flexibility in our coordination structures, funding, and programming from the earliest stages of response, so that it is context-specific and based on existing capacity?

  • How do we use momentum around transcending the humanitarian-development divide to invest in strengthening national and local humanitarian response systems over the longer-term?

  • And how do we replicate the good practice of countries helping each other in times of crises, leveraging national and regional preparedness and response mechanisms?

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