The daunting scale of the humanitarian funding gap and the seemingly intractable nature of the many well documented humanitarian financing challenges provided the backdrop for a series of Future Humanitarian Financing (FHF) dialogues held in 2014. Those who took part in these cross-sectoral events, however, repeatedly stressed as grounds for optimism factors such as economic growth, increasing global connectedness, new technologies, innovation in financing and business practices and emerging global norms around the need to manage risk and build resilience. This report represents an effort by members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Humanitarian Financing Task Team to draw on this spirit of optimism and opportunity to stimulate renewed energy and commitment to resolve longstanding humanitarian financing challenges and to identify new approaches and models of engagement to address the needs of humanitarian crises yet to come.
The international humanitarian enterprise is out of step with the realities of the world in which it operates and is far from fit to meet the challenges of the future. A fundamental shift in the humanitarian business model is overdue – from a culture and set of practices that tend towards insularity, reactiveness and competition towards an enterprise rooted in anticipation, transparency, research and experimentation, and strategic collaboration.
Humanitarian actors need to focus not only on meeting humanitarian needs today but also need to work towards a future in which, wherever possible, international humanitarian response is unnecessary or exceptional, and the majority of needs are met by local actors. Clearly this cannot be achieved with the resources, tools and influence currently at their disposal; it requires long-term vision and strategic alliances with a broad range of actors who can deliver transformative changes to vulnerability and the management of risk. Therefore, in addition to a programme of internal reforms, a radical global agenda will be needed to meet the humanitarian financing challenges of the future, engaging and enabling a far wider ecosystem of actors in meeting the costs of managing risk and of responding to post-crisis needs, as a shared responsibility and a public good.