Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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WHS 2016: Working today to help tomorrow

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14 May 2013 – “Rome wasn’t built in day” as the saying goes, and that was just a city. Coordinating global, effective and innovative responses to future humanitarian needs is a monumental task that is constantly evolving. Thus, three years before the the World Humanitarian Summit will take place in Istanbul, preparatory work is already underway.

Many of the challenges to be confronted by the Millennium Development Goals stem from humanitarian concerns including reducing hunger, increasing education and promoting gender equality. These issues have been further exacerbated by climate change and the effect of severe weather events as droughts, floods and hurricanes strike people around the world. The inherent global nature of these events requires a concerted effort to bring relief to billions around the world. Yet, a one-off solution is impossible as each continent, country, region even city has different needs.

WHS-JoinTheConversation1Last year, 28.8 million people were displaced by conflict and violence. Population growth, increasing poverty and climate change will only make populations more vulnerable to humanitarian crises. The goal of the Summit is not to draw attention away from current humanitarian needs, but rather to unify the efforts of nations, NGO’s, civil society and local actors to render action more effective.

The UN has launched the website, http://www.worldhumanitariansummit.org/ , dedicated to collecting information. With the ability to select regions, the site aims to target regional humanitarian needs and offered solutions as identified by individuals and groups. Discussion forums and events help in each region will provide individuals and groups the chance to state their needs. The three year initiative is being managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The need for concentrated action has been especially highlighted recently as large international NGOs have been seen as edging out smaller, local actors. The tension between international and local is becoming more visible as middle income countries such as Pakistan and the Philippines are struck by disasters, but have an independent capacity to deploy humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian missions across the world, one of the UN’s foundational tasks, are still undergoing in regions around the world and will not be stopped or interrupted for the preparation of the Summit. Yet, after 2016 they will continue in a far more coordinated framework to improve response to disasters and conflicts. “The only way to meet future needs is through effective and innovative partnerships with Governments, non-governmental organizations, local communities, and new partners like the private sector and philanthropy”, says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

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