Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, Welcome remarks at the annual high-level pledging conference for the Central Emergency Response Fund


New York, 8 December 2017

As delivered

The Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres, Excellencies, Ministers, Distinguished guests, Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Annual High-Level Pledging Conference for the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund – or CERF – for 2018.

This is the first Conference that ushers the transition towards the new funding target of $1 billion by 2018 that was endorsed by the UN General Assembly last December.

Your endorsement is a resounding vote of confidence in CERF as an effective instrument to rise to the challenge of our times.

Today, I am proud to say that, with 12 years of enabling humanitarian partners to save and protect hundreds of million lives globally, CERF is our shared success.
I would like to thank the 126 Member States and Observers as well as 45 non-governmental entities for making this possible.

I am pleased to inform you that CERF has surpassed its previous funding target of $450 million, with a strong position to reach a record high annual income.

But while we celebrate CERF as our shared success, we also face significant challenges as the humanitarian community.

For 2018, the humanitarian community is appealing for $22.5 billion to meet the needs of 91 million people in 26 countries.

2017 itself saw significant demands for CERF where CERF’s support was stretched to the maximum with early and catalytic funding to thirty-six emergencies.

Due to increasing number of requests, reducing allocations to individual crises has become a necessity for CERF. These decisions have concrete implications – for the survival and protection of millions of men, women and children.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

The math is simple – a larger CERF means that more people will be reached with life-saving aid, faster.

New strategies and approaches are being developed in close consultation with partners to optimize impact with increasing funding to CERF.

For example, I would like CERF to further promote early action to prevent pandemic outbreaks. In January last year, the spread of yellow fever outbreak in Angola was successfully contained due to urgent vaccination campaigns, partly funded by CERF. In 2014, CERF was one of the earliest sources of funding for the multi-country Ebola outbreak enabling humanitarian partners to kick-start vital services reaching 37 million people.

One of CERF’s strengths is that it brings humanitarian organizations together at country levels to collectively assess and prioritize humanitarian needs for urgent response. Moving forward, I would like to build on this and explore CERF’s potential to further enhance coordinated needs assessment and analysis in line with Grand Bargain priorities.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

A strong CERF able to deliver on its mandate is every Member State’s responsibility and a step towards our commitments to leave no one behind and reach the furthest left behind first.

This year’s Conference will initiate the pledging process for 2018 as part of broader efforts and milestones in the year to strengthen the role of CERF to address current humanitarian challenges.

We count on your continued support and engagement through CERF.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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