As the UN asks for a staggering $20bn in humanitarian funding, some of the leading donor states share their thoughts on the future of the sector:
United Kingdom (Desmond Swayne, minister of State and lead for Department for International Development) – The UK is leading the way as the third-largest donor in the world to emergency appeals. But we need other donors to step up – the UN appeal for Syria, for instance, is only 49% funded…. The international community as a whole needs to address the growing gap between humanitarian need and resources. … Unfortunately, humanitarian need is increasing, fueled in part by the consequences of conflict. The number of people affected by crises around the world has almost doubled over the past decade, and over 90% of people in extreme poverty are living in countries that are politically fragile, environmentally vulnerable or both. To meet these challenges head on, we have refocused half of DfID’s budget on supporting fragile and broken states and regions to tackle many of these issues at the source.
Norway (Børge Brende, minister for foreign affairs) – I’m very concerned about the widening gap between humanitarian need and funding. Norway is one of the world’s largest humanitarian donors, per capita. We increased the humanitarian budget this year and will further increase the budget substantially for next year to respond to the increasing needs. A major part of this funding goes through UN appeals. … However, we cannot depend on a continuous increase in funds. We need to develop better ways to use our set of resources more effectively. We must also be able to think long-term in humanitarian efforts, and focus on resilience to shocks in development assistance. Prevention of conflict and crisis through mediation, human rights, democracy and good governance is essential and also more cost-effective than emergency assistance.
United States (Spokesperson for USAid, the US government’s development agency) – The US is the world’s single largest humanitarian donor. In the fiscal year 2015, the US Agency for International Develepment (USAID) and the Department of State provided more than $6bn in life-saving humanitarian assistance. … Given the rising needs in long-term protracted humanitarian emergencies such as Syria and South Sudan, new humanitarian emergencies in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and the anticipated preparation for and response to El Nino-related disasters, the United States expects its humanitarian resources to be stretched in the coming year.
Sweden (Isabella Lövin, minister for international development cooperation) – We are the fifth biggest bilateral donor in the world and we expect to give at least as much as we gave last year, and probably more. Our concern is that so many other countries don’t live up to the aim of giving 0.7% of GPI to development aid. Also, it’s not just about how much you give, it’s about how much you give that’s un-earmarked. Sweden is a big donor of un-earmarked funding, and that means that it’s much more easily available for humanitarian organizations like the UNHCR, and can be used immediately to respond to a crisis. That makes it much more valuable funding, and we’d like to see other countries giving more that’s un-earmarked.
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Unparalleled challenges require new and innovative solutions. Next year, the UN will be holding its first-ever World Humanitarian Summit. The hope is that this will serve as a forum for change, where countries can come together with solutions to improve the humanitarian system to meet the challenges of today and the future.