Outcomes of the ‘Interactive Dialogue on Humanitarian Financing’ ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS),

Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kyung-wha Kang, opened the ‘Interactive Dialogue on Humanitarian Financing’ organised by the Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) programme together with Future Humanitarian Financing (FHF) at ECOSOC HAS yesterday, by stating that new solutions were needed to old challenges as the gap between requirements and funds listed in the UN appeals continue to rise. Over half-way through the year, less than a quarter of what is needed has currently been raised.  Moving forward with this theme, a panel, comprised of:

CHAIR: Anke Reiffenstuel, Deputy Head Task Force Humanitarian Aid, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany


  •  Sophia Swithern, Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) Programme Leader
  • Lydia Poole, Independent Consultant, Author of the Future Humanitarian Financing (FHF): Looking Beyond the Crisis report


  •  Robert Piper, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt)
  •  Claus Sorenson, Director General, ECHO
  •  Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in UN DESA
  •  Fatou Diagne Zaouini, Risk Management Advisor, Africa Risk Capacity

discussed a variety of proposed new solutions, responding to the Future Humanitarian Financing’s recently launched report Looking Beyond the Crisis and the new Global Humanitarian Assistance Report launched yesterday. Across the panel, panellists highlighted the need to engage more with development actors, play a more assertive role in political processes, move towards a more anticipatory ways of working and reduce inefficiencies present within the current system.

‘The Humanitarian Community needs to own the post-2015 agenda and develop a shared responsibility with the development community for addressing vulnerability and people’s long-term needs’

Thomas Gass, ASG, UN DESA


The discussion was followed by group work to develop recommendations on the future of humanitarian financing under five key themes identified in the GHA 2015 report and the FHF report ‘Looking Beyond the Crisis’ and central to discussions taking place as part of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and UN High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing. The themes for the five groups include ‘nationalising and localising the humanitarian response’, ‘the development and humanitarian nexus’, ‘embracing diversity to ensure sufficient funding’, ‘moving towards proactive ways of working to better meet peak demands’ and ‘upgrading the Humanitarian Architecture to address inefficiencies and strengthen needs-based funding’.

‘When we debate demand [for humanitarian assistance] outstripping supply, we mustn’t focus exclusively on raising more money but focus instead on reducing demand in the first place’

Robert Piper, RCHC oPT

The recommendations that resulted from the group work were presented to the official ECOSOC HAS High Level Panel on ‘Addressing capacity and resource challenges through humanitarian financing during afternoon of 18 June in order to inform discussions and feed into the conclusions from the panel by Anke Reiffenstuel, Deputy Head Task Force Humanitarian Aid, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany. The recommendations from the five groups are outlined below.

‘A key issue in the Humanitarian System is an attitude problem, Humanitarians must get out of their holes, stop hiding behind their principles and engage more with politcal communities to address fundamental underlying issues’

Claus Sorenson, DG ECHO

Group A: Nationalising and Localising Humanitarian Response:

1. A change in the national humanitarian architecture is needed to ensure local & national actors’ strategic involvement in context appropriate coordination mechanisms. This needs to be accompanied by placing a far greater proportion of international humanitarian assistance directly at a national level

2. Clarify the role of international organisations, to identify & understand where and how they add value, and where their role could be fulfilled by national actors.

Group B: The Development and Humanitarian Nexus:

1. Donors and wider actors should organise funding investments to create incentives for humanitarian, development, climate change and other concerned actors to work in complementarity to address longer-term needs of vulnerable and crisis-affected populations. This in practise means shifting from assessments to joint analysis, from planning to programming, and from funding to financing

2. Clarify the remit of humanitarian actors, recognising that they must work better with national governments and development actors where appropriate. At the same time, development actors must prioritise risk management, preparedness and resilience in order to ‘leave no one behind’.

Group C: Embracing diversity to ensure sufficient humanitarian funding:

1. To better engage emerging donors, we need to build trust and engage in mutually beneficially dialogue.

2. To increase the diversity in the funding base of humanitarian action, we must illustrate transparency, improved efficiency and performance.

Group D: Moving towards proactive ways of working to better meet peak demands:

1. Build national, sub-national and regional mechanisms and capacities for countries to manage their own crisis risks and financial preparedness before establishing a new global contingency fund as a default for managing risk.

2. To develop ways of working that better meets peak demand, we need to not only invest in institutions that better manage risk but also invest in behavioural change within the sector towards more anticipatory ways of working and sustained technical capacity at a local and national level

Group E: Upgrading the Humanitarian Architecture to address inefficiencies and strengthen needs-based funding:

1. Recognising that the current system perpetuates competition over resources, we need to strengthen understanding of donor preferences and behaviour, as well incentives for coordinated decision-making between donors. Underpinning this, the development of a shared understanding of global needs is vital to prioritising funding to particular crises.

2. Move towards results-based funding through multi-year funding and collaboration with development The measurement of outcomes should be undertaken on the basis of beneficiary feedback in addition to donor perspectives.

Read the Future Humanitarian Financing Recommendations by following the links below:




Future Humanitarian Financing: Looking Beyond the Crisis

The Future Humanitarian Financing Initiative launched it’s flagship report ‘Looking Beyond the Crisis’ this week.

In March 2015, the UN appeals to address humanitarian crises across the world reached $18.7 billion, figures that are likely to rise given the current humanitarian caseload. The costs of delivering humanitarian aid are also rising, up from an estimated $149 per targeted crisis-affected person in 2012 to $237 in 2014. The humanitarian financing gap in 2014 is estimated to be almost USD 8 billion. These challenges provided the backdrop for a series of Future Humanitarian Financing (FHF) cross-sector dialogues held in Amman, Dakar, Bangkok, London and Geneva in late 2014 and early 2015. Individuals from within, on the margins and outside the humanitarian system at an international, regional and local level were brought together to debate and propose solutions to the current challenges in financing response to humanitarian needs.

Looking Beyond the Crisis - new report by FHF initiative
Looking Beyond the Crisis – new report by FHF initiative

The FHF report Looking Beyond the Crisis (published jointly by CAFOD, (Caritas England and Wales) the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Vision as a contribution to the IASC Humanitarian Financing Task Team’s 2014 work plan) represents an effort to draw on the insights and spirit of these dialogue events, incorporating emerging areas of consensus as well as additional research and targeted interviews with experts, to provide a comprehensive analysis of the state of the humanitarian financing sector.

The report envisages a fundamental and ambitious shift in the humanitarian business model. Humanitarian actors need to focus not only on meeting humanitarian needs today but work towards a future in which, wherever possible, international humanitarian response is unnecessary or exceptional and the majority of needs are met by local actors. To achieve this vision, the ‘Looking Beyond the Crisis report proposes a radical global agenda to engage and enable a far wider variety of actors in meeting the costs of managing risks, of responding efficiently to crises and of meeting post-crisis needs as a shared responsibility and as a global public good.

Transformational changes in the humanitarian business model envisaged during the FHF dialogue process include:

  •  Re-balancing the division of labour to free up limited principled humanitarian financing and response capacity and to collectively share in the burden of meeting an increasing humanitarian caseload.
  • Prioritising nationally-led response by investing in building sustainable domestic capacity to respond and removing barriers to access to flexible humanitarian funding for local and national actors.
  • Embracing diversity, reconfiguring the existing humanitarian system to reflect the full diversity of financing and responding actors particularly regarding Islamic actors and finance and the private sector.
Creating a Shared Responsibility
Creating a shared responsibility and capacity to meet the cost of crisis response: One of the report’s main proposals is to re-balance the division of labour between Humanitarian and other actors

The report also puts forward important recommendations on systems upgrade to the humanitarian system that move towards an enterprise rooted in anticipation, transparency, research, experimentation and strategic collaboration. These include:

  • Improving anticipation and analysis, with proposals for anticipating funding requirements, quantifying and communicating requirements, tracking and monitoring funding.
  • Upgrading the architecture, and enabling a more efficient division of labour, bridging liquidity gaps, making provisions for ‘peak demand’, and investing in nationally led response.
  • Improving efficiency, by managing recurrent costs and moving towards multiyear funding commitments for implementing actors, particularly in protracted crises.
  • Reducing transaction costs, by improving business practices, streamlining current humanitarian sub-contracting and where possible harmonising reporting.
Addressing Peak Demand
Major Crises drive peaks in financing demand and may divert funds from other crises. One suggestion made by the report is to explore the potential of a global catastrophes contingency fund financed by alternative and additional funds including levies as well as donor-financed risk products

Follow the link below to read the full report and a full list of recommendations:



FHF at the World Humanitarian Summit

There is a whole discussion to be had on the Future of Humanitarian Financing and fortunately this has been the topic for the IASC for a long long time. We have in fact a Task team on Humanitarian Financing and for the past months they’ve had a series of discussions with experts on the ‘Future of Humanitarian Financing’ and I think they are ready to come out with a very excellent technical report.

Kyung-Wha Kang

Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator (UN OCHA)

Check out the emerging themes from the Future Humanitarian Financing Dialogue by clicking on the button below


Funding Aid Tomorrow?

Future Humanitarian Financing is an initiative to bring fresh thinking and expertise from beyond the humanitarian sector to address the growing problem of how we meet the financial costs of responding to humanitarian crises.


The scale of needs and financing requirements in 2014 is extraordinary. And its not only that there are more crises, but some of the largest ones are in extremely difficult environments – Syria, South Sudan – where the costs of response are high.

By July 2014, requirements per targeted beneficiary in the UN’s coordinated appeals stood at US$204, up from US$168 in 2013.

While the scale of crises in 2014 may be exceptional right now, high-levels of humanitarian needs may not be unusual in the future. In the future we can expect an increase in small-scale crises – as well as large crises with complex, compound and far-reaching impacts. Increasing Urbanisation and Population Growth, compounded by the effects of climate change will potentially strain humanitarian resources even further.

French banner 3

Two major scenarios:

  1. Response where international resources and capacities work in cooperation to support and complement domestic actors. Often in response to natural disasters, disease outbreaks and man-made disasters such as industrial accidents.
  2. Humanitarian response in the most contested and difficult places, such as Syria, Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, where independent and impartial actors may be uniquely placed to respond.

Expanded Ambition

The System is not well configured for its primary purpose and is not structured to fund its new ambitions of preparedness through to recovery. In 2012 just 6% of funds were spent on emergency preparedness and two-thirds of all spending was concentrated on long-term recipients but still disbursed on an annual and unpredictable basis.


Changing cast of actors

The origins of modern humanitarian action arose from European battlefields of the late nineteenth century.

The ‘system’ which has evolved and currently comprises the international humanitarian enterprise evolved in the latter half of the twentieth century. And a system of coordination established in 1991.

There is much to commend this system, but there are many existing challenges and many areas in which the old approaches, models and actors no-longer reflect our current challenges. Growing recognition of need to work differently, to develop a more open and adaptive system.

Cast of responding and financing actors is changing rapidly. Growth in MICs including the capacity and intention of governments to lead and coordinate response. People are globally connected and change happens rapidly.

Growing role of the private sector: Philippines response more than half of all assistance provided by the private sector.

Adapting for the future

Financial flows to Disaster Affected Countries:

There is plenty of money. Humanitarian assistance is tiny compared with the full range of domestic and international resource flows, even in the most crisis-affected countries.

Global changes have brought great opportunities as well as challenges.

Private sector in crisis-affected states: more than half of response to typhoon Haiyan from private sector – in particular in response to the Ebola Crisis.

Leveraging new sources of private funding through web-based social activism.

Insurance against disaster risks increasingly technically feasible in many developing countries

Governments have far greater commitment and capacity to respond and Non-traditional donors playing growing role.

Outside of our existing experience:

New forms of structuring finance: impact investing, Alternative uses of insurance including insuring humanitarian organisations themselves against peak demand, and levies and taxes.



Shared Responsibility

More than half the world’s population lived in a country affected by a major disaster or conflict in 2012, the cost of crises is in fact a common concern.

Amos infographic 2

How do we promote and enable shared responsibility for responding to crises across all of these different groups?

How do we enable affected citizens, their representatives and networks, including civil society organisations, diaspora and governments, to better withstand the financial costs and shocks of disasters? How could we use communication technology, forecasting and financial products and services including banking, transfer and insurance to do this?

Can we enable those concerned to engage better – quicker, more reliably and more cost effectively, and can we use their influence as advocates better? How could we use new communication and financing technology and platforms to do this?

Can we strengthen the sense of duty or obligation to respond, particularly among governments? That might increase the predictability of the financing response?

How do we engage those who are currently not contributing? How do we communicate, inform and educate? How do we provide channels through which they can engage? How do we make the best use of their unique capacities and comparative advantages? How do we bring them closer towards being concerned or even feeling a sense of shared responsibility and duty to respond?

Follow for Full Presentation and for summaries of our London, Amman and Bangkok Dialogue Events

The Future Humanitarian Financing Initiative hopes to harness collective expertise from a multitude of professional sectors and experiences to vision the Future of Humanitarian Financing. To join the dialogue and influence the research we’d be interested to know what mechanisms those within and outside the Humanitarian Sector believe have the greatest potential to Fund Aid Tomorrow. To participate fill out the poll below and we encourage further suggestions. If you have more detailed information about any of the mechanisms listed or concerning any of the concepts above please contact

Emerging Themes from London Cross Sector Dialogues

Future Humanitarian Financing aims to bring fresh thinking to address the growing problem of how we meet the financial costs to responding to humanitarian emergencies. The purpose of the initiative is to discuss the potential of new and emerging approaches to financing and investigate how these might support a more open and adaptive humanitarian endeavour as well as new models fit to meet the changing nature and scope of humanitarian crises.

In October and November, the Future Humanitarian Financing Initiative convened its first cross sector dialogues, bringing together over sixty experts from the Humanitarian, Development, Academic and Financial Sectors across two morning events to discuss emerging models including Development Impact Bonds, Crowdfunding platforms, Disaster Risk Insurance and the increasing role of the private sector.

It was clear from both events that a more open and inclusive humanitarian enterprise is needed and that the existing humanitarian architecture is exclusive of many important actors. During the second dialogue Dr Sara Pantuliano, Director of the Humanitarian Policy Group at the ODI provided participants with an overview of HPG’s research into the Changing Humanitarian Landscape, particularly the increasing importance (or rather an increasing recognition of the importance) of Rising Global Actors. Through discussion, many participants also reflected on this and the need to reconfigure the existing humanitarian system to reflect the full diversity of financing and responding actors emerged as a key theme in both dialogue events.

The case for more engagement with the private sector has been a topic of discussion in many forums on Humanitarian Financing and the London Dialogues was no exception. However what was clear from discussions in London is that it is not about more engagement, but rather the right type of engagement, that the key to possible future mechanisms of Humanitarian Financing. The private sector is not just a cash dispenser and Humanitarian actors, in their engagement with private sector actors, have not yet taken full advantage of opportunities to benefit from the expertise, capacity, resources and influence of the private sector. With this in mind there is a need to better understand the specific interests and comparative advantages of the private sector actors and determine areas or ‘shared value’ opportunities for joint ventures. Participants from both the Humanitarian and Private Sector also suggested that this topic needed to be approached with a sense of realism that has previously been lacking and that the sector needed to move away from generalised rhetoric around improving partnerships and be more realistic about working with the private sector and their ability to maintain a principled approach. As one private sector participant challenged ‘Do you really want to work with us?’

“Do you really want to work with [the Private Sector]?”

A Challenge to the Sector from a Private Sector Participant at a London Dialogue event, improved engagement with the private sector can offer a lot of potential both in terms of funding and efficiencies but Humanitarians must be realistic about the aims and objectives of private sector actors in order for such partnerships to work effectively.

A full summary of the London dialogue events can be found here along with summaries from Dialogue events held in Amman, Bangkok and Dakar.

The Future Humanitarian Financing Initiative aims to be an evolutionary piece of research, drawing on the expertise of experts from across different sectors and regions. To join the discussions please comment your reactions below, complete our polls, or email with any ideas or suggestions. You can also follow discussions on the Future of Humanitarian Financing on twitter: @FutureHF

Future Humanitarian Financing: A new initiative to find new solutions

The 2014 Development Initiatives’ Global Humanitarian Assistance report highlighted that the international community responded to the dramatic scale of need in 2013 with an unprecedented $22 billion in funding. However even at this record level, over a third of needs outlined went unmet. Fresh thinking is needed on how to finance people’s real needs and GHA welcomes the Future Humanitarian Financing project’s role in this global discussion.


Judith Randel, Executive Director – Development Initiatives

Future Humanitarian Financing: A new initiative to find new solutions

Future Humanitarian Financing is an initiative which will explore new models of financing humanitarian action and address the growing gap between funding for humanitarian action and humanitarian needs. By bringing experts from beyond the humanitarian sector, including those involved in risk financing and insurance Future of Humanitarian Financing bring fresh thinking and expertise to this debate and influence the global agenda on humanitarian financing, providing practical and applicable solutions to address some of these growing problems. To join in the dialogues press ‘Apply’ below and please visit our ‘About’ page for more information on the research and dialogue events.



International Day for Disaster Reduction

Worldwide disasters are increasing in frequency and complexity. Similarly vulnerability to crises is likely to increase as the world population continues to grow, particularly in urban areas, increasing demands on food and water resources.

Last year (2013) a record $22 billion was spent on Humanitarian Assistance, yet even at these record levels of funding, under two-thirds of the humanitarian needs outlined in UN appeals were met.

Instead of focusing funding on reacting to crises more needs to be spent on preventing disasters from occurring in the first place:

In 2011 the world spent almost 40 times more dealing with disasters than preventing and preparing for them.





For every €1 invested in disaster prevention, €4 to €7 are saved in disaster response.


EU Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

International Day for Disaster Reduction


Future of Humanitarian Financing is an initiative which will explore new models of financing humanitarian action and address questions such as ‘how can we best prepare for emergencies to save lives and money reacting to crises’. By bringing experts from beyond the humanitarian sector, including those involved in risk financing and insurance Future of Humanitarian Financing bring fresh thinking and expertise to this debate and influence the global agenda on humanitarian financing, providing practical and applicable solutions to address some of these growing problems. To join in the dialogues press ‘Apply’ below and please visit our ‘About’ page for more information on the research and dialogue events.





How to find money to fund Aid – Just Print It

Are there lessons that can be learnt from the response to the financial crisis, that could be applied to help fund aid tomorrow? Michael Metcalfe’s innovative idea to print money to increase overseas aid takes inspiration from the reaction of Central Bank’s to the financial Crisis, challenging the “sanctity of the money supply”. At the time, in order to reassure investors, Central Banks of the United States, United Kingdom and Japan created $3.7 trillion in order to buy assets and encourage investors to do the same.

Much like the UK Aid Match or corporate matching schemes, Metcalfe envisages a financial model mandating Central Banks to match government overseas aid spending up to a certain limit.


Last year, just under $3 billion was needed to close the gap between humanitarian needs and actual funds received. If “print-aid” had been in place over the last four years (2009-2013) in USA, UK and Japan it would have generated an extra $200 billion in overseas aid. A negligible amount when compared to the $3.7 trillion created in response to the financial crisis.

We took a $3.7 trillion gamble to save our financial systems. And you know – it paid off, there was no inflation. Are we really saying that its not worth the risk to print an extra 200 billion for aid, would the risks really be that different? To me its not that clear. What is clear is the impact on aid.

Metcalfe argues that “print-aid” could provide humanitarian and development initiatives with at least 40% more funding. The risks of this money creation is quite modest but the benefits are potentially huge. Is ensuring that adequate funding is available for overseas development and humanitarian assistance as simple as just printing money? Future of Humanitarian Financing is an initiative which will explore new models of financing humanitarian action and address questions such as ‘how can the humanitarian sector learn from innovation in the financial sphere’. To join in the dialogues press ‘Apply’ below and please visit our ‘About’ page for more information on the research and dialogue events.


Why Raising Money For Ebola Is Hard

90% of private funding to humanitarian response is received within 90 days of an emergency event

Without the money, without the supplies, without the people – the situation (in West Africa) is getting worse

Charities raised $1.4 billion to help rebuild Haiti after the earthquake. After the tsunami in Asia in 2004, organisations raised $1.6 billion. But when something like Ebola happens, so far, people look the other way. NPR explores why it has been so difficult to raise money for Ebola and other disasters such as famine.

Until something is much more visible in the media it’s almost impossible to raise funds…you can’t raise money until people are actually starving.

Without a Galvanising moment: 90% of private donations made to humanitarian response are given in the first 90 days of a crisis. This implies that there needs to have been some event such as in Typhoon Haiyan or the Haiti Earthquake. The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, in funding terms, in almost the complete opposite to the Haiti Earthquake. For a start (from an American perspective) West Africa is far away, but more importantly there has been no galvanising event, the spread of the disease has occurred incrementally (albeit rapidly and on a large scale). Furthermore as a medical crisis it is more difficult for people to comprehend and the pitch is not as optimistic. In Haiti, money was raised to rebuild – to make people’s lives better, in response to Ebola funding is needed to stop things getting worse. This money is not coming. Without a Galvanising moment there is a need to create one artificially:

Centre for Disease Control: If nothing is done to slow down Ebola 1.4 million people will be infected with this disease

ByszXHLIgAAinMJThis figure may be a worst case and potentially unlikely scenario but grabs headlines and provides that galvanising moment that is ideal (if not necessary) to leverage high levels of public donations. Similarly declarations of Famine have this effect. However this does not provide for the most effective or efficient humanitarian response. According to the European Commission on Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) every Euro spent on disaster preparedness saves 7 Euros in relief efforts. However people do not generally give to prevention and thus as a sector large-scale funding is only accessible when people are actually dying – deaths which could have been prevented had funding come earlier.       Private  giving from individuals, foundations and corporations is an increasingly important source of funding for humanitarian assistance. But how can these increases in private giving be leveraged to funding for disasters without a galvanising event? How can we encourage private donors to donate for preparedness and prevention of slow-onset emergencies. Future of Humanitarian Financing is an initiative which will explore new models of financing humanitarian action and address questions such as ‘how can we raise money for future crises such as Ebola’. To join in the dialogues press ‘Apply’ below and please visit our ‘About’ page for more information on the research and dialogue events.


Donors failing to ensure ‘No Lost Generation’

Donor Commitment to Education for Syrian Refugees falling short
As UN agencies and donors met on Wednesday 24th September, a year after they pledged to provide education to Syrian refugees as part of a commitment to no lost generation, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI, UK-based development think-tank) highlighted that barely 40% of aid agency appeals for education among Syrian refugees has been delivered, in its new report ‘Living on hope, hoping for education’ * Regional Response Plan data as of June 2014, UNICEF Education data as of August 2014.