The New Way of Working


The volume, cost and length of humanitarian assistance over the past 10 years has grown dramatically, mainly due to the protracted nature of crises and scarce development action in many contexts where vulnerability is the highest. For example, inter-agency humanitarian appeals now last an average of seven years, and the size of appeals has increased nearly 400 per cent in the last decade. This trend has given new urgency to the long-standing discussion around better connectivity between humanitarian and development efforts. At the same time, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out not just to meet needs, but to reduce risk, vulnerability and overall levels of need, providing a reference frame for humanitarian and development actors to contribute to the common vision of supporting the furthest behind first and a future in which no one is left behind.

Strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus was identified by the majority of stakeholders as a top priority at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), including donors, NGOs, crisis-affected States and others, and it received more commitments at the WHS than any other area. The New Way of Working (NWOW) as outlined in the Secretary-General’s Report of the WHS (PDF) and the Agenda for Humanity (PDF) represents an approach to put this into practice.

The New Way of Working

The New Way of Working (NWOW) calls on humanitarian and development actors to work collaboratively together, based on their comparative advantages, towards ‘collective outcomes’ that reduce need, risk and vulnerability over multiple years. Recognizing the need to work differently in protracted crises, several Resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators and Country Teams, together with a range of partners, embarked on the process of articulating collective outcomes in 2017. 

Collective Outcomes

This notion of “collective outcomes” has been placed at the center of the commitment to the New Way of Working, summarized in the Commitment to Action signed by the Secretary-General and nine UN Principals at the WHS, and endorsed by the World Bank and IOM.  A collective outcome is a concrete and measurable result that humanitarian, development and other relevant actors want to achieve jointly over a period of 3-5 years to reduce people’s needs, risks and vulnerabilities and increase their resilience.