17 January 2016

Secretary-General's press remarks at the launch of the High-Level Panel Report on Humanitarian Financing

[As delivered]

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,

Salaam Alaikum.

I am delighted to be back in Dubai. I am also very much pleased to be here with Her Royal Highness Princess Haya [bint Al Hussein]. She is the President [Chairperson] of the International Humanitarian City – thank you for your contribution.

I am also pleased to be here with the distinguished co-chairs of this high-level panel of independent experts on humanitarian financing – His Royal Highness [Sultan] Nazrin Shah of [Perak] Malaysia, and Vice President [for Budget and Human Resources of the European Commission] Madam Kristalina Georgieva.

Distinguished members of the high-level panel – it is a great pleasure to be with you.

Before I speak on the very important report we are launching today, let me say a word about the encouraging developments on Iran.

I welcome the news that a number of Americans who had been detained in Iran – including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian – have been released; and that so have a number of Iranians held by the United States.

I commend moves by the Governments of both countries to improve ties.

I am also heartened by the lifting of sanctions against Iran.

I hope that the parties now move to fully carry out the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in good faith.

Now is the moment to boost cooperation on other pressing challenges through dialogue, which should continue to guide the way forward to a safer future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This is my first trip on my first substantive trip of 2016. We are about to launch a major report that will guide our work on rising to the enormous humanitarian challenges in our world. I am here to show that I stand with the vulnerable people.

I thank all the panel members, especially the co-chairs – I have already recognized their contributions [and] compassionate leadership. They have offered constructive proposals to narrow the growing gap between desperate needs and global resources.

This is an age of mega-crises. Three out of four UN appeals for humanitarian funding for more than a billion dollars are in the Middle East and North African region. I count on our partners to build on their proud traditions of solidarity at this difficult time.

Globally, the world is shattering records we would never wish to break. We are seeing all-time-high numbers for the amounts of money requested through humanitarian appeals, the amounts raised from generous donors, and scale of the global humanitarian funding gap.

That is why, in May last year, I asked a high level panel of eminent independent experts to urgently seek solutions to the funding gap. I am not the only one who has been looking forward to this report – so have many leaders of the world working in global humanitarian aid.

The report’s recommendations address the three questions I posed at the outset: first, how to raise more funding for humanitarian aid; secondly, how to make it more predictable, and thirdly, how to improve its efficiency.

The stakes are sky high. More than 125 million people need humanitarian assistance worldwide. The financial burden is five times greater than a decade ago. Humanitarian action is now the UN’s costliest activity – even more than our peacekeeping operations.

The report rightly points out that while record sums are being given to the noble cause of humanitarian action, generosity has never been so insufficient.

We cannot go on like this. We need fresh thinking – and the resolve to take tough decisions.

Last year concluded with major shows of global solidarity. In September last year world leaders adopted the visionary 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda – with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs. And last month in Paris, we had adopted this global breakthrough with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Our pledge is to leave no one behind. We can only fulfil this promise by coming together to address the needs of the growing numbers of people who depend on humanitarian aid to survive.

This report makes an important contribution to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May. Even before then, we have to start translating recommendations into action.

I am optimistic that we can move from pledges to results. I see enthusiasm among a wide range of partners for making the positive changes we need. Together, we can deliver a new, more reliable, adequate and sustainable model of humanitarian funding.

This report calls for bringing donors and aid organizations together in a “Grand Bargain”. The United Nations stands ready to meet our side of any bargain that improves the global humanitarian response.

This will advance our vision of a life of dignity for all people.

Thank you and Shukran Jazeelan.