Emergencies do not rest, neither can we, Secretary-General stresses, in message for High-Level Event on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action


Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the high-level event on Anticipatory Action, held today:

Humanitarian emergencies can happen anywhere, any time. Today, 238 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection. A 40 per cent increase since last year — driven by climate change, conflict and COVID-19.

Most disasters strike without warning. But, more than 20 per cent can be predicted. From droughts and storms, to floods, heatwaves and outbreaks of disease. And by acting early, we can prevent them from turning into full-blown catastrophes.

Last year, the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) invested $140 million to scale up anticipatory action in 12 countries. In Somalia, for example, early action meant fewer outbreaks of malaria and diarrhoea, and financial assistance for families and farmers. And in Bangladesh, CERF funding was released within four hours of the initial flood warning, to help people evacuate before the flooding reached critical levels.

Anticipatory action protects lives, livelihoods, homes and entire communities. These early investments also prevent higher response costs down the road. This is at the core of my prevention agenda — to put better data, and more innovation, foresight and inclusion, into our work to address major risks. But, all this work depends on funding. And today, less than 1 per cent of humanitarian funding goes to anticipatory action.

So, my call to action is two-fold. First, we need Governments and donors to increase support for preparedness, anticipatory action, and rapid emergency response at all levels — via pooled funds like CERF, the IFRC [International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies] Disaster Relief Emergency Fund and the Start Fund. Second, we need to better understand the risks that people face, so we can tailor our action to their needs. We need more support for risk data, analytics and early warning systems.

Later this year, together with many of you, we will launch a Complex Risk Analytics Fund to help scale up these investments. Because humanitarian emergencies do not rest. Neither can we. Let’s join forces to make these investments and help people and their communities prepare for, and respond to, humanitarian disasters. Thank you.


For information media. Not an official record.