The World Humanitarian Summit was a landmark moment that launched a vital agenda for change. Participants made thousands of commitments to deliver the Agenda for Humanity, a five-part plan to alleviate suffering, reduce risk and lessen vulnerability on a global scale. As the implementation of commitments progresses, stakeholders must stay the course in their ambition to deliver results for the millions of people affected by crises.
In the second year since the World Humanitarian Summit, OCHA launches "Staying the Course: Delivering on the ambition of the World Humanitarian Summit", a report that represents a synthesis of achievements and challenges that 152 stakeholders reported as they reflected on their progress towards these commitments in 2017. OCHA prepared this document on behalf of all stakeholders with an interest in humanitarian action, as instructed by the Secretary-General in his Report on the Outcomes of the World Humanitarian Summit (A/71/353). The achievements recorded by stakeholders on the online Platform for Action, Commitments and Transformation (PACT, available at agendaforhumanity.org) between January and December 2017 contribute to the broader work of the international community to bring people in crises closer to the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Although still in its early stages, the Agenda for Humanity is beginning to reshape global and local approaches to preventing, preparing for and responding to humanitarian crises, laying the foundations for greater changes to come.
Achievements to date
Although still in its early stages, the Agenda for Humanity is beginning to reshape global and local approaches to preventing, preparing for and responding to humanitarian crises, laying the foundations for greater changes to come. Among the most significant changes operationalized to date:
Humanitarian-development cooperation is being taken forward at the highest levels of the United Nations and reshaping Member States’ aid strategies, while at country level, the New Way of Working is gaining operational momentum.
Stakeholders are responding to early warning by funding and delivering early action to mitigate the impacts of crises.
Adoption of new approaches
A group of committed Member States and international organizations have adopted legal and policy changes that are enabling new approaches, including direct funding of local actors and multi-year funding in support of collective outcomes.
Invest in national capacity
International humanitarian actors are directing resources towards strengthening local and national capacities to prepare for and respond to crises, while working to make international action more transparent, efficient and effective.
The Grand Bargain and other multi-stakeholder initiatives launched at the Summit—such as the Charter for Change, the Charter for Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, Education Cannot Wait and the Connecting Business Initiative—have laid the groundwork for collective action in key areas.
Top five challenges
In spite of these real achievements, progress remains uneven. Some of the Agenda for Humanity’s 24 transformations have maintained momentum; some have seen progress slow as the impetus of the Summit fades, while others have yet to receive the attention they need.
The lack of sustained and predictable financing for conflict prevention and peacebuilding remains a major impediment to more coherent programming across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.
National and local humanitarian organizations remain under-represented in decision-making processes, in particular at the global level, and meaningful partnerships between international and local organizations need to be strengthened. Affected people still have little say in decisions that affect their lives, at both global and local levels, despite the efforts of a small group of committed stakeholders to improve participation, transparency and accountability.
The need for better data and analysis was the third most frequently cited challenge. The humanitarian sector’s lack of capacity to gather, analyse and use data to inform decision-making was highlighted as a constraint across all transformations.
Conditions on the ground
The work of operationalizing commitments, and of turning ambitious pledges and well-meaning policies into practical action on the ground, has brought to light the structural barriers, legal restrictions and capacity gaps that must be addressed. Solutions to these challenges are especially urgent in efforts to include diverse voices, provide multi-year and flexible financing, and fund national actors directly.
In the absence of a clear framework for measuring progress and outcomes, stakeholders struggled to assess whether changes are having the desired impact for people affected by crises.
“We cannot achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development without redoubling our efforts to reach those left farthest behind: refugees, internally displaced people, women and girls, children and all people whose lives have been overturned by conflicts or disasters. […] The call to action set out in the Agenda for Humanity remains as urgent as ever.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Statement on the first anniversary of the World Humanitarian Summit, 23 May 2017