HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS SEGMENT
The ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment took place from 15 - 17 July 2008, providing an important forum for discussing activities and issues related to strengthening the coordination of the humanitarian system of the United Nations.
At its organizational session for 2008, the Council had decided: (a) that the theme of the Humanitarian Affairs Segment of its substantive session of 2008 will be “Building capabilities and capacities at all levels for timely humanitarian assistance, including disaster risk reduction”; and (b) that it will convene two panel discussions, of which the topics will be: (i) “Disaster risk reduction and preparedness: addressing the humanitarian consequences of natural disasters, including the impact of climate change,” (ii) “Humanitarian challenges related to global food aid, including enhancing international efforts and cooperation in this field” (Council decision 2008/213). Each panel featured high-level participation from affected governments, relevant UN agencies, NGOs and experts.
The panel discussion on "Disaster risk reduction and preparedness: addressing the humanitarian consequences of natural disasters, including the impact of climate change" took place on Wednesday 16 July and was designed to highlight the links between the humanitarian implications of climate change and disaster risk reduction.
The panel on "Humanitarian challenges related to global food aid, including enhancing international efforts and cooperation in this field," took place on Thursday 17 July and aimed to address the immediate humanitarian challenges, such as food-related unrest, increased costs for food aid and food assistance programmes, longer term challenges, such as greater food-insecurity and new patterns of long-term hunger and strategies to improve response to these challenges.
On the morning of the 15 July, in between the Operational Activities and Humanitarian Affairs Segments, there was an informal ECOSOC event on "Coordination in the transition phase between emergency relief and sustainable recovery." The aim of this panel was to highlight the efforts that the United Nations and the World Bank are making to promote a common understanding of needs of countries in post-crisis transition and to address the essential of increasing national ownership of the recovery and development process as well as the strengthening of the partnership between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods Institutions.
In the margins of the Humanitarian Affairs Segment there were also several informal side events on issues such as the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) mid-year review, the independent Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) evaluation, the use of military assets in natural disaster relief, internal displaced persons in the context of natural disasters, gender-mainstreaming and the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action.