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CERF the most profitable investment for the good of humankind – UN Secretary-General

07 Dec 2018
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At today’s high-level pledging event for the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), 41 donors announced record pledges of US$439 million for 2019 and additional contributions for 2018, ensuring a record level of funding of $554 million to CERF for this year.

“There are many ways in which you can spend well your money with the UN, the CERF is in my opinion probably the best”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said at the opening of the event. “I strongly urge you to have the ambition to make the CERF a larger Fund, because that will dramatically improve our capacity to respond to the multiplication of emergency situations that we witness and to the protracted problems that are more and more difficult to address.”

Throughout 2018, CERF’s global reach was central to the humanitarian community’s ability to respond as the fund provided time-critical life-saving assistance to millions of people across 47 countries and territories at a total value of approximately $500 million – the highest ever allocated from CERF in a single year. Funding from CERF spanned from life-saving assistance to populations affected by conflict and internal strife to natural disasters as drought, earthquakes and hurricanes and disease outbreaks as Ebola.

In 2019, humanitarian challenges will remain significant with UN-coordinated humanitarian response plans requiring $21.9 billion to meet the needs of 94 million people globally. CERF’s global reach, its flexibility, speed and role as a lifeline for those caught in forgotten emergencies will be essential for the humanitarian community’s ability to respond efficiently and effectively to these needs.


On 2 October, CERF allocated $15 million to immediately bolster relief assistance for people affected by the 7.4 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, on 28 September. Credit: OCHA

CERF is the collective success of the global humanitarian community, but at the same time, the fund’s ability to respond to the increasing humanitarian needs and deliver life-saving support globally is the shared responsibility of its donors. When the General Assembly in 2016 endorsed the increase of CERF’s annual fundraising target to $1 billion, it also called upon all Member States to consider increasing their voluntary contributions to the fund.

At the event, Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock thanked Member States and private sector representatives for collectively ensuring a continued increase of available resources to CERF, enabling the fund to further strengthen its life-saving activities.

Forty-one donors pledged at the event. This includes private sector representatives, as well as five Member States that also have received funding from CERF, which is testament to the global support that CERF enjoys as a fund for all and by all. “I am convinced that more systematic anticipatory funding from CERF will reduce human suffering, by cutting response times and costs, and facilitating better-quality programme design and impact,” said Mr. Lowcock.


Rohingya crisis: A young girl carries a sick baby to a Army Medical Post in Kutupalong Refugee Camp, Makeshift Settlement and Expansion Site. Credit: OCHA/Anthony Burke

Recognizing the growing evidence that early action undertaken before the full impact of a disaster can help save lives, mitigate suffering and acknowledging CERF’s role as a convener of coordinated early action, Mr. Lowcock also noted that CERF will continue to further systematize the use of anticipatory funding. “Looking forward, I believe that CERF has the potential to play an even more prominent role as an enabler of early response to emergencies” said Mr. Lowcock.

Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 as a global fund ‘by all, for all,’ CERF is a critical enabler of effective, timely and life-saving humanitarian action, helping front-line partners on the ground to kick start or reinforce emergency activities. Since its inception, the fund has assisted millions of people with more than $5.5 billion across more than 100 countries and territories due to the generous and consistent support from its donors.

“Let’s not forget that we see the combination of conflict, climate change, movement of people and many other dramas in today’s global society that make humanitarian action more needed than ever”, added Mr Guterres. “Be absolutely sure that what you will invest in CERF is probably the most profitable investment you can make for the good of humankind.”