17 January 2016

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

Today we launch a report that is critical to our global mission of leaving no one behind which is a main theme of the Sustainable Development Goals.
I am deeply grateful for the contributions of all the panel members, led by the co-chairs, Her Excellency Kristalina Georgieva, Vice President of the European Union, and His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Shah of Malaysia.
As this report points out, more than 120 million people live in constant distress, without jobs, food, water, shelter or health care.
If they were all in one country, I am told that it would be the eleventh largest country on earth. And it would be one of the fastest growing nations.
If our world were a school, it would have few spaces for needy children – as you know we have 60 million children out of school. 
This is not an abstract analogy. Three quarters of a million Syrian children last year were shut out of classes because we could not fund their right to an education.
The United Nations is working every hour of every day to address the complex root causes of crises.
We also rush to fight fires. So many fires are burning around the world.
I serve as Secretary-General at a time of tragic records.
Since the UN was founded, the world has the most-ever people in need of humanitarian assistance and the highest-ever amount funding appeals.
We also face the biggest-ever appeal shortfalls.
Last year, nearly half of the UN’s appeals were unmet.
More people have been forced to flee their homes than at any time since the Second World War.
For the first time at the United Nations, humanitarian aid has surpassed the peacekeeping budget.
It is easy to lose heart – but there is also cause for hope.
The world is has never been more fragile – but it is also richer than ever before.
The all-time-high needs are matched by record levels of generosity.
Aid workers show courage and bravery that inspires the world.
Agencies are using new technology to make impressive improvements.
I applaud these advances.
At the same time, I insist that we honestly confront problems.
One is the divide between humanitarian aid and development cooperation.
We cannot use a band-aid as a cure.
The report rightly calls for cooperation instead of competition among agencies.
I will do everything possible to make this a reality.
I always stand against mismanagement, waste and inefficiency. That is part of ongoing efforts of the United Nations to improve our efficiency and effectiveness and reduce the waste of our resources. This is especially important when it comes to aid that is meant to save lives.
Although I have just received the report, this report I can already appreciate many of its findings.
This report is a clarion call for a more efficient approach to humanitarian financing.
It recommends better data, so we have a clearer picture.
That will lead to more accurate estimates and greater trust.
With that trust, we can reduce red tape and cut overhead costs.
When we do that, more aid will reach more people who need it most.
And with the best possible use of funds, we can inspire even more trust and attract new donors.
Here I especially count on our partners in the Middle East.
This is a proud region with a rich history and enormous global influence.
Tragically, it is also the world’s number one producer of refugees.
Political will is paramount to resolving this region’s conflicts. Relief aid is essential to preventing even more needless deaths.
The humanitarian challenge is more than a financial issue. It is a matter of our common future; it is a matter of global solidarity.
As this report points out, the refugee crises shows that somebody else’s problem is no longer just somebody else’s problem – it is your problem; it’s my problem; it’s our problem.
The world is interlinked as never before. The sooner we realize this, the better we can break down barriers – between North and South, between development assistance and humanitarian aid, between donors and agencies. In place of these barriers we can build bridges of collaboration.
This report calls for striking a Grand Bargain between major donors and agencies.
I can confidently declare that the United Nations is fully ready to live up to our side of any bargain that serves the most vulnerable.
We are eager to do more to improve financial transparency, carry out best practices and promote the greater good.
When donors make their own improvements, we can score a win for everyone – most importantly the people we serve.
Now is the time for a breakthrough. I see three clear reasons why.
First: We must do this. We have to address humanitarian crises or the challenges will grow.
Second: We can do this. We can do this if we are united.
Last year closed with two major victories for global solidarity: the Sustainable Development Goals – 17 goals - adopted by all world leaders. These are far-reaching visionary goals, which will guide us at least coming 15 years to leave no one behind, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. These are triumphs of multilateralism. These two victories show that with global solidarity there is nothing, which we cannot overcome.
With the same spirit of global solidarity, we can tackle the humanitarian aid challenge.
That is the only way to keep our promise to leave no one behind.
Third: We have the chance now. The World Humanitarian Summit this May in Istanbul, Turkey is our opportunity to make more global improvements than we have seen in over a decade.
We are not convening this Summit just to ring alarms or beg for badly needed funds.
We are meeting to take a hard look at how we do business, hold frank discussions and take tough decisions.
In a few weeks, I will build on this excellent report by publishing my own vision for the future humanitarian agenda.
Between now and May, there will be a series of meetings to discuss the recommendations and decide on concrete commitments and actions.
I stand with the vulnerable people – and I will represent their interests at the World Humanitarian Summit.
I appreciate the authors concluding their report with a reminder of what I said in my first speech to the General Assembly, in October 2006. I was elected at that time. I was speaking to the General Assembly as the elected Secretary-General.
I declared that the UN’s success would not be measured by promises but by results in the lives of those who need us most.
I stand still by this statement. That is why I will continue to do my best efforts until the very last day of my mandate, even though this is my last year as Secretary-General. I will do my best to address all the global challenges we are facing. I count on your support. And again, I thank deeply the panel members for its focus on delivery.
Let us rise to this challenge, together.
I thank you very much for your support.