18 Jan 2016

The launch of High-Level Humanitarian Financing Report

Your Highness,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for your attendance and attention this afternoon. And thank you, your Highness, for hosting this significant and timely meeting.

It is our honour, Mr Secretary-General, to have you with us, and our pleasure to be able to welcome all of you to this most important event.

The genesis of today came from Mr. Ban-Ki-Moon’s original commissioning of this report and the unequivocal brief he set out.

As we will hear from the two co-chairs of the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva and His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak, this report has come at a critical juncture.

There has never been enough humanitarian funding. And with the unprecedented scale and severity of global disasters, made by nature and manufactured by humankind, needs are greater than ever.

So, the issuing of this report, itself the product of six months of work by a distinguished panel of global experts, together with those on the ground, in the private sector and civil society, is both right and timely.

We in the international community welcomed the publication of “Too important to fail – addressing the humanitarian and financing gap”.

It is an important step towards the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May this year.

All of us have long sought ways to provide adequate levels of response, with continually overstretched resources, when trying to cover the needs of a greater number of crises.

Nowhere has this fearful spectre haunted nations more than in the UAE, always amongst the very top of those providing aid.

And in 2015, it was our distinct privilege to be leading the world in aid as a percentage of GDP.

We understand that the people worst affected are almost always the poorest, often the most marginalised and certainly the most vulnerable.

In response, our primary role is to save lives and alleviate suffering and to do this while protecting and maintaining human dignity.

Today, that word maintaining is coming into ever-sharper focus.

The scale and scope of current crises and disasters means they are often recurrent and frequently protracted.

In short, it costs us ever more to deal with the immediate symptoms and with the aftermath, often also the cause, of the symptoms.

And so the humanitarian community must seek to respond to an ever-broader brief.

One in which poverty leads to vulnerability, vulnerability to insecurity and heightened risk, one where environmental disasters feed off political incapacity and impotence in a hideous and vicious circle.

So, yes, we have to be there first to do the heavy lifting. But we also have to stay on-site to manage the aftermath, to try and establish professional capabilities ‘in-country’ that are both efficient and effective over the longer term.

This is a necessary part of our role, but it is not sufficient.

We cannot do it all and neither should we try. This is where local strength and dignity need to play their part.

In addressing Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s original brief so completely, you will hear from the co-chairs of the panel and read in the report that the contributors have succeeded in:

  • showing how to increase the available resources for global humanitarian aid,
  • offering ways to make humanitarian aid more predictable and timely,
  • and suggesting answers for improving the efficiency of deployment of aid on the ground.

I would like to note that the majority of proposals put forward are squarely in line with our position in the UAE, as well as our aspirations.

Partnership should always be at the heart of everything we seek to do. Partnership between agencies, between individuals, a partnership between nations.

Partnership and commitment, something the founding fathers of the UAE understood and utilised when they built our nation.

The same spirit of partnership we live by today as we continue to build our young country and ally ourselves with others in support of powerful initiatives such as Cop 21, and by hosting international organizations such as the International Renewable Energy Agency as well as global events such as Expo 2020 and, of course, today’s essential proceedings.

There is much in the report that deserves our attention and support, and much that will lead to further healthy debate.

It is neither my job, nor is it our role here today, to have those debates, but I would like to highlight some of the main elements that struck me.

Clearly we need better and more efficient ways of raising the colossal sums necessary to finance humanitarian care.

In this respect, we would all like to see further consideration for ways in which Islamic Social Finance can benefit development initiatives, perhaps learning some of the lessons from GAVI.

This report now forms a really solid basis to structure a first-ever World Humanitarian Summit during the coming year.

The panel’s call for governments to commit a higher proportion of their GDP to humanitarian aid seems entirely justified by the scale of challenges we now face - as well as the international response to date.

I strongly believe that by the end of this session you will join with me in wishing the report well as it launches into a world that severely needs both its high-level thinking, as well as its all-important detail.

For the moment, I thank you for your kind attendance and I know I speak for His Highness, and for our panellists and speakers when I commend the work involved. I look forward to further debate and most of all, to playing our part in addressing the financial gap.

To quote the title of the report, this really is “Too important to fail.”

I thank you all and ask you to join with me now in welcoming the United Nations Secretary-General His Excellency Ban-Ki-Moon.