Supporting the process of transition from Relief to Development

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Panellists exchanged their ideas towards better integrated planning and risk management, in particular the context of increasing funding streams to manage crisis risk. Mr. Mundele addressed four key points, including the humanitarian context in DRC, economic progress of Congo, history of the management and humanitarian framework in DRC, the mechanisms of economic stimulus and community resilience in post conflict. He emphasised the focus should be put on the prevention program of disaster risk to evaluate the Congo’s Framework for Action and develop the contribution of Africa to the establishment of the post-2015 framework.

Mr. Soumaré pointed out that humanitarian organisations and the Governments should plan and work together. “Government leadership is the key”, he said. Not only does it encourage humanitarian and development organizations to work more effectively, it also multiplies the impact. Mr. Jean noted that this is an important issue in Haiti; one of the most vulnerable countries, exposed to all sorts of catastrophes, including droughts, earthquakes, cyclones, etc. There are currently innovative approaches driven by Governments and the UN, however there is limited support from donors and a lack financing sources to develop innovative approaches to humanitarian work.

Mr. Clerg echoed Mr. Jean’s comments. He specifically focused on risk management in preventing humanitarian crisis. He concluded with three main calls for action. First, prioritizing countries at risk to ensure development aid goes to people and countries that are the most at risk. Next, humanitarian organisations should put high emphasis on managing the risk of crises, instead of just responding to its consequences. Lastly, crisis risk management should be prioritized in order to prevent and mitigate future humanitarian crises.

Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Supporting the process of transition from relief to development: Funding and risk management”
Speakers: H.E. Ibrahim O. Dabbashi (Libya), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council; Ms. Kanni Wignaraja, Director, United Nations Development Operations Coordination Office; H.E. Charles Naweji Mundele, Minister of Social Affairs, Humanitarian Action and National Solidarity, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Mr. Moustapha Soumaré, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Mr. Yves-Robert Jean, Director-General, Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation, Haiti; Mr. Peter de Clerq, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Haiti
Location: ECOSOC Chambers, United Nations HQ, New York 
Date: 23 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

 

Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability

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Today an event was held which highlighted how environmental sustainability is an integral part in humanitarian aid effectiveness. The panelists in this meeting discussed the findings from a report entitled “Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability.”

The first speaker, Ms. Gebremedhin, the Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland, began by addressing various environmental issues that need to be taken into account during humanitarian action, in order for it to reach its full potential. For example, management of solid wastes and hazardous materials and safeguarding natural resources are essential, and the reduction of deforestation, desertification, and pollution is necessary for sustained livelihoods in the aftermath of a disaster. Furthermore, efficient leadership and accountability are needed in humanitarian situations, and addressing environmental concerns is a shared responsibility between donors and humanitarian organisations.

Following, Mr. Khalikov, Director of OCHA Geneva, stated the effectiveness of humanitarian aid is dependent on environmental conditions. He cited floods and draughts as main environmental threats that can complicate an already existing humanitarian crisis, like a famine or armed conflict.

Ms. Anita van Breda from WWF USA spoke about combining climate change adaptation strategies with disaster risk reduction. She highlighted the Green Recovery Program – a partnership between WWF and the American Red Cross –, which works to sustain livelihoods, provide adequate water, sanitation, and shelter, and deals with disaster management. Her three key recommendations to take the environment into consideration when taking humanitarian action included: updating academic training and professional development, learning to manage change and developing new ways of learning, and ensuring that staff and volunteers have the necessary discipline, skills, and aptitude.

Concluding the meeting Ms. Costa, the Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission spoke about the threat faced by women and girls when they have to leave their refugee camps to collect firewood for cooking and heating. Many have to travel 5 or 6 hours a day to collect enough wood to cook just one meal, and on the journey are raped, beaten, or killed. Ms. Costa emphasised the importance of shifting communities away from dependence on wood fuel and towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable options in order to decrease the threat of this gender based violence and to reduce deforestation and resource overconsumption.

Meeting Title: Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability
Speakers: Ms. Anna Gebremedhin, Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland; Mr. Rashid Khalikov, Director of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Geneva; MS. Anita van Breda, Director of Humanitarian Partnerships, WWF USA; Ms. Sarah Costa, Executive Director of Women’s Refugee Commission
Location: Conference Room 5 NLB, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Sustainable Support for Peace Building: the domestic and international aspects

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Today marked the annual session of the Peace Building Commission to discuss both the domestic and international elements of sustainable support in the peace building process. H.E. Mr. Patriota opened the dialogue by highlighting the weaknesses in current international aid, specifically the lack of political, technical, and financial assistance in helping these countries secure hard earned peace and stability.

Deputy Secretary General Mr. Eliasson focused heavily on the Commission’s need to sustain international attention beyond the immediate moment of acute crisis. While fighting may have stopped, the scars and public mistrust stemming from these conflicts often continue to be felt. To heal these scars, countries must restore and maintain public faith in the legitimacy of the state and trust in a peaceful road ahead. This requires that governments deliver public services, such as health care, education, and safe water, in a quick and equitable manner. But H.E Mr. Eliasson stressed that simple international aid rarely helps build this new social contract. Instead, it can weaken national ownership if not done in the right manner.

Mr. Eliasson highlighted three concrete areas of assistance for the international community to place high levels of importance on. First, support the development of the country’s own capacities and resources, primarily those that enable them to raise revenues. Second, fight the illicit flow of money, which resulted in losses totaling almost $1 trillion in developing countries last year. Finally, develop a predictable and more stable framework of support to facilitate peacebuilding in these at risk countries. H.E Mr. Ramos-Horta, former President of Timor-Leste, closed the meeting by commenting on his own experience in the successful peacebuilding process of Timor-Leste. Enabling the leaders of the region, both civilian and military, to engage in honest conversations that bridge the existing divide is essential to recovery. The international community must also help cultivate national ownership and national leadership, as foreign actors cannot stand in as the political leaders of an emerging country.

 

Meeting Title: Peacebuilding Commission annual session: Sustainable support for peacebuilding, the domestic and international aspects
Speakers: H.E. Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Chair of the Peace Building Commission and Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary General; H.E. José Ramos-Horta, United Nations’ Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peace-building Office in Guinea-Bissau former President of Timor Leste General;
Location: United Nations HQ, New York City
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark

 

Energy Efficiency Accelerators at SE4ALL

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Luis Gomez-Echeverri, moderator of the Sustainable Energy Forum, spoke about options for alternative resource development in a number of countries, and spoke about the importance of energy efficiency. Between 1974 and 2010, energy efficiency was the main focus in 11 countries associated with the International Energy Agency. R.K. Pachauri, Director General of TERI, talked about conservation of energy. To maintain energy efficiency, the negative carbon emissions need to decrease by 450 million. In order to accomplish this, legislative procedures need to be put in place and also budgets needs to increase.

Reid Detchon discussed the governmental role in providing funds to start an accelerator program. In order to accelerate the implementation policies on the Energy Efficiency Accelerator approach, the current slow process in formulating effective funding must be accelerated.

Setting the correct policy framework is the main goal. Detchon suggested that all willing governments address policy questions, provide technical services and, most importantly, engage civil society. Clay Nesler, who represents Johnson Controls’, approach to the realization of the accelerator program is to engage cities to commit to participate with the program and get local governments to commit to funding. Nesler announced that if all goes through, the official kickoff will be in Paris. He elaborated on getting assistance by using logistics to scale up the cost of sustainable and renewable energy, and ensuring price and project autonomy.

 

Meeting Title: Sustainable Energy Forum: Energy Efficiency Accelerators
Speakers: Luis Gomez-Echeverri, Senior Research Scholar, IIASA and Senior Advisor, SE4ALL; Reid Detchon, Vice President Energy and Climate, United Nations Foundation; R. K. Pachauri, Director General, TERI; Steven L. Kukoda, Vice President, International Copper Association, Ltd.; Clay Nesler, Vice President Global Energy and Sustainability, Johnson Controls; Alfred Haas, Vice President, Osram; Ivan Jaques, Head, Energy Efficient Cities, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program ESMAP, WB; Paul Voss, Managing Director, Euroheat and Power; Sheila Watson, Director of Environment and Research, FIA Foundation; Josué Tanaka, Managing Director, Operational Strategy, EBRD
Location: United Nations UQ, Trusteeship Council, New York 
Date: 4 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Leslie Anokye
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

Nutrition as an Input and an Outcome of Resilience

The concept of resilience and its practical application in food security and nutrition, both in policy formation and implementation, has recently become a topical issue among humanitarian development communities.

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Today at the United Nations, a panel discussion on nutrition aimed to propose approaches and develop a concrete action plan that can be taken to strengthen resilience towards the root causes of malnutrition. Building upon the discussion and conclusions from the IFPRI 2020 conference held in Addis Ababa, the event aimed to provide insights for the preparation of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and the post-2015 developmental agenda. 

Chairperson, Sandra Aviles opened the discussion by highlighting the importance of understanding the term resilience not as jargon, but as a term that is practically defined as a tangible indicator that can help communities bridge the gap between short term goals and long term developmental agendas.

Mrs. Florika focused her address on locating target communities that are most vulnerable to malnutrition. She stated that, “children below the age of five and pregnant and lactating women were among those that are the most severe targets of hunger needs”. In response, ECHO and OCHA are developing a system to index risk factors, develop key indicators, and resilience markers and identify best practices to provide humanitarian assistance to these communities with maximum output. Mrs. Dolores highlighted natural disasters as another factor that threaten food security. Crises prone regions of developing countries are often ill equipped with coping up with natural disasters, and at times such disasters occur with little time gap which further threatens food security and enhances health risks.

In conclusion, Mrs. Charlotte Dufour, drawing upon a programme conducted with ECHO that addressed the challenge of access to land as an underlying causes of malnutrition, highlighted some of the practical problems that schemes faced when tested on ground. She posited that institutional silos existed across and within institutions that hinder the establishment of a common language of indicators. Furthermore, while institutions possess technical skills they lack the organizational and planning skills that are required to initiate programmes in countries with fragile governments, weak leadership and high levels of corruption.

 

Meeting Title: “Nutrition as an input and an outcome of resilience”
Speakers: Sandra Aviles; Senior Liason Officer, Programme Development & Humanitarian Affairs, FAO; Mrs. Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director for Strategy, Policy and International Cooperation, ECHO; Mrs. Dolores Rio, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF; Mrs. Charlotte Dufour, Nutrition Officer, FAO; Mrs. Muriel Calo, Senior Food Security & Livelihood Advisor, Action Against Hunger
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 7 (NLB), New York 
Date: 23 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark