Speech at the 2015 Ecosoc Humanitarian Affairs Segment

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Geneva, 18 June 2015

State Secretary Bård Glad Pedersen's speech at the 2015 Ecosoc Humanitarian Affairs Segment: High-Level Panel on "Addressing Capacity and Resource Challenges through Humanitarian Financing" in Geneva on 18 June 2015.

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Exellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Last year, in the Sahel region alone, over half a million children under the age of five died from malnutrition and common illnesses.The fact that half a million children die from easily preventable causes is a grim testimony of the international community's joint failure to save lives and alleviate suffering.It calls on all of us to do more and to do better.

State Secretary Bård Glad Pedersen at the Ecosoc meeting in Geneva on 18 June 2015. Photo: M.D. Tumidajewicz Hauge
State Secretary Bård Glad Pedersen at the Ecosoc meeting in Geneva on 18 June 2015. Credit: M.D. Tumidajewicz Hauge

The international humanitarian system is currently serving more people than ever before.

But the needs are extraordinary and they last longer.The global humanitarian appeal released this week is record high. And the funding gap is 14 billion USD as of early June.

This cannot continue.

We need a global cry for humanity, and we need more diverse actors on board to provide more effective assistance to people in need:

First: Governments need to step up and increase their humanitarian response.

In Norway we have increased our humanitarian budgets, with approximately 1 billion NOK this year –130 mill US Dollars, and –we it is necessary to increase this further next year.

Second: It is not enough to mobilise traditional donors alone.

More countries need to contribute, and we need to see a wider range of donors and other partners, including non-OECD countries.The increased contribution by Gulf states to the humanitarian response in the Middle East is encouraging, and we need to go further.

Third: We need increased engagement with the private sector.

The private sector can help us in being more innovative and making the response more effective.Strengthened humanitarian preparedness and response can also be good for business.

Fourth: In order to reach more people we need more effective aid.

The NGOs are key humanitarian actors and we need a broader range of national and international NGOs that are better organized and more fit for the purpose. During the World Humanitarian Summit consultations, there has been a strong call for 'localized aid'.Local NGOs are typically present before, during and after a crisis.They are well placed to deliver assistance in a much more context specific and localized way.And for less money.

But we need to remember:

- Many of today's large scale humanitarian crisis are conflict related, complex and long lasting, such as the crises in Syria and in South Sudan.

- We need to ensure that our humanitarian aid, including from new partners, is based on the agreed humanitarian principles.

Fifth: The best, and most cost-efficient, way to address conflict-related and protracted crises is to prevent them from happening in the first place, and to find political solutions to ongoing conflicts.

Humanitarian action can never be the solution.We must invest more in prevention, conflict resolution, reconciliation, peacebuilding, respect for Human Rights and good governance.

- And - as we know, resilience measures and preparedness save lives, save losses, and protect future growth.

We must follow up the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Sixth: We need to work more effectively together - and we need to establish better linkages between humanitarian and development funding.

Development actors must be brought in at an earlier stage in many of the long lasting and protracted crises we are faced with today.We must find better ways of dealing with the issues of increased risks in these situations and make our funding procedures more flexible and better adapted to the needs on the ground. Not least in fragile states, we must invest in people and support their resilience, through supporting local economies and development programs in key sectors. Such medium and long-term investments complement the ongoing short-term response to the humanitarian consequences of crises can support a generation of well-nourished, educated and healthy citizens who can build a better future.We have several examples today of neighbouring middle income countries to countries affected by crises- who receive high numbers of refugees, but who would not normally qualify for development aid. We must assist them to cope with the situation and be willing to contribute also beyond humanitarian assistance to the refugees. We as donors do have a great responsibility in adapting to the situation. But the UN could also take a more proactive role in coordinating between development and humanitarian actors and break down the silos that exists.

[Concluding remark:]

In conclusion let me say that I am looking forward to today's panel discussion.

I also hope that the established High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, as well as the process leading up to theWorld Humanitarian Summit, will contribute with new and transformative ideas on humanitarian financing.

Financing is an essential part of making the global humanitarian system more fit for purpose.

And as we speak, the negotiations on the outcome document on financing for development are in their most intense phase in New York, and –the results might also influence humanitarian assistance.

Saving lives and alleviating suffering for those in need is a global concern and should be the responsibility for all.

Thank you.