One year ago this month, the Secretary-General launched his ‘Agenda for Humanity’ at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul. In this multi-stakeholder event, the international community made a collective commitment to stand up for humanity and implement wide ranging changes to reduce human suffering. The consultations and voices represented through the WHS process was a point of departure that has generated an urgency for a “New Way of Working”. One year on, we are focusing on how to operationalize the commitments to make them a reality.
The commitment to reduce risks and vulnerability by building national and local capacities means investing more in preparedness, particularly in countries prone to natural disasters. The impacts of climate change reinforces this need and why the international community must prioritize approaches that support sustainable solutions to save lives through stronger individual, community and national resilience. A “New Way of Working” entails stronger collaboration between development and humanitarian partners, local governments and civil society, regional bodies, academia and the private sectors. Achieving collective outcomes and reinforcing, not replacing national and local structures is central to this approach.
OCHA’s Emergency Services Branch (ESB) celebrates the first anniversary of the WHS by taking stock of the diverse initiatives it leads to support the fulfilment of the Agenda for Humanity and its commitments for action.
Strengthening national and local response capacity: Working with national and local actors to increase their readiness to respond in disasters and reduce their vulnerability is at the core of ESB’s work.
ESB’s Field Coordination and Support Section (FCSS), as the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Secretariat, is working on establishing a national USAR team accreditation mechanism to improve the standards of search and rescue in collapsed building environment and natural disaster response. A National Accreditations Working Group was established in 2016, and the proposal to develop such mechanism was approved by the INSARAG Steering Group in 2017. A national accreditation mechanism will strengthen national and local capacity by allowing countries to develop their own national response systems, in line with INSARAG guidelines.
Together with the World Customs Organization (WCO), ESB’s Activation and Coordination Support Unit (ACSU) is working on an initiative launched at the World Humanitarian Summit to support customs administrations in West Africa. The project aims at strengthening current mechanisms to receive and clear international assistance. ACSU is facilitating capacity building workshops in Nigeria, Guinea and Sierra Leone; supporting the operationalization of standards operating procedures and advocating for the implementation of ASYREC.
The Global Preparedness Partnership (GPP), an initiative soft-launched at the WHS, supports countries reach a minimum level of readiness by further investing in local preparedness. ESB’s Global Approach to Preparedness (GAP) team supports this partnership and the implementation of its strategy in 2017. Through a Multi-Partner Trust Fund, the GPP aims to support 15 of the most vulnerable countries achieve a minimum level of readiness by 2020. The GPP supports preparedness measures at the national level and works towards collectively strengthening national response capacities of the most vulnerable countries in a coordinated way. This initiative also supports national and regional coordination mechanisms and ensure the coverage of remaining gaps in national capacity.
Developing and promoting standards for quality response: ESB’s Civil Military Coordination Section (CMCS) actively engaged with Member States and other multi-stakeholders during the regional and thematic consultations leading up to the World Humanitarian Summit. CMCS organized a series of events, which culminated in a dedicated side event at the Summit, where a broad range of practitioners collectively identified the need to institutionalize the processes and practices shaping interaction and coordination between humanitarian organizations and relevant military and other governmental actors from affected and assisting states.
The conclusions of the side event resulted in the development of Standards and Best Practices on Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination under the auspices of the multi-stakeholder UN-CMCoord Consultative Group. The aim of the Standards is to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of military support to humanitarian action at the international, national and sub-national levels, while contributing to the Agenda for Humanity’s Core Responsibility to “Uphold the Norms that Safeguard Humanity, through reinforcing principled humanitarian assistance”.
As the UN-CMCoord Consultative Group Secretariat, CMCS continues to monitor Member States’ actions towards implementation of their UN-CMCoord-related commitments made at the WHS.
Partnerships to address humanitarian challenges: ACSU hosts the Secretariat of the Leading Edge Programme, an initiative launched in early 2017 to address the need for collaboration among a diversity of actors to identify solutions to cross-cutting issues in crisis preparedness and response. Under the umbrella of the Leading Edge Programme, networks and partnerships, some of them launched or reinforced at the World Humanitarian Summit, engage in a year-round collaboration to solve common challenges. ESB also leads the organization of the annual event of the Leading Edge Programme, the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week, which in its third edition in February 2017 welcomed more than 1,200 experts from diverse backgrounds.
ESB’s Surge Capacity Section (SCS), which hosts the Inter-Agency Protection Standby Capacity Project (ProCap)/Gender Standby Capacity Project (GenCap) Support Unit, is working on its 2018-2020 strategy to further align it with global strategies and commitments made to advance the Agenda for Humanity. SCS is committed to explore the implications of the “New Way of Working” with both United Nations agencies and programmes, and Stand-by Partners.