Local governments are at the forefront of humanitarian crises

26 May 2016

Participants to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul (Turkey) made it clear that local actors are key in addressing humanitarian crises. They also recognized the need to ensure people affected by crises are not only informed, but put at the centre of the decision-making processes. 

Participants to the first ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on 23-24 May took several initiatives under the idea of “sharing humanity”, especially by setting the Global Alliance for Urban Crises, supported by PLATFORMA. Its aim is to strengthen prevention, preparedness and response in increasingly precarious urban settings, particularly with local municipal actors. The Mayor of Istanbul, Kadir Topba?, stressed that the Alliance will be key in helping local authorities become more active in the response to crises. He said: “we, local authorities, are determined to fulfill our responsibilities”.
Florika Fink-Hooijer from DG ECHO thanked UN-Habitat for launching this Global Alliance, highlighting that urban crises offer both challenges and opportunities: “You have infrastructure we can plug into, a large private sector we can use, and the possibility to scale up cash-based solutions”.
Closing the discussion, Joan Clos, UN-Habitat’s Executive Director, reflected on why a Global Alliance: “The XIst century is the urban century and there is no alternative than to be prepared for crises”, he said.
Addressing root causes and increasing political diplomacy
Participants to the two-day event made it clear that assistance alone can neither adequately address nor sustainably reduce the needs of over 130 million of the world’s most vulnerable people. They insisted that a new and coherent approach is required, based on addressing root causes, increasing political diplomacy for prevention and conflict resolution, and bringing humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts together.
Speaking at a roundtable, Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said that capacities to deal with crises must be built at the national level. Noting that the gap between needs and funding was too wide, he said that aid must be made more effective and the root causes must be tackled.
The needs of internally displaced persons and refugees
Participants to this wake-up call for action for humanity also resolved to pursue a new approach to address the needs of internally displaced persons and refugees that would meet immediate humanitarian needs and longer-term development outcomes to enhance the self-reliance of refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and host communities.
Humanitarian financing
Participants emphasized that humanitarian needs must be met by adequate and predictable financing. It was clear that there remained a need to increase direct, timely and predictable humanitarian financing.
Donors and humanitarian partners announced agreement on a “Grand Bargain” that will entail channeling 25% of financing to national and local responders as directly as possible by 2020. “The Grand Bargain will put more resources in the hands of the most in need and most at risk”, welcomed Kristalina Georgieva, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for budget.
PLATFORMA took part to the UN-led Summit through Andreas Wolter, Vice-Mayor of the City of Cologne (Germany), and its members Cités Unies France, the Dutch Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International), and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).
The UN-led Summit convened 9,000 participants from 173 Member States, including 55 Heads of State and government, hundreds of private sector representatives, and thousands of people from civil society and non-governmental organizations.


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