The worldwide consultations leading up to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit have generated a demand for a vision of a world whose fundamental humanity is restored, a world where no one confronted by crisis dies who can be saved, goes hungry, or is victimized by conflict because there is not enough political will or resources to help them. Consultations with over 23,000 people repeatedly called to put people affected by crises at the heart of humanitarian action.
Human suffering from the impacts of armed conflicts and disasters has reached staggering levels. Nearly 60 million people, half of them children, have been forced from their homes due to conflict and violence. The human and economic cost of disasters caused by natural hazards is also escalating. In the last two decades, 218 million people each year were affected by disasters; at an annual cost to the global economy that now exceeds $300 billion.
Even as global leaders pledge to “leave no one behind”, the needs and dignity of millions of people in crises are being neglected. Millions suffer from the devastation wrought by frequent disasters that recur before they can fully recover their livelihoods. Political paralysis leaves the root causes of armed conflicts and vulnerability to disasters unaddressed, while also hindering access to those in need.
The humanitarian system has never reached more people in so many places, but with its current resources and structure, it is no longer able to address the scale and complexity of present, let alone future needs. Each year, an ever larger proportion of life-saving humanitarian needs remains unmet, despite greater funding contributions. The strengths and skills of the growing diversity of humanitarian partners, particularly from the Global South, are not sufficiently harnessed; nor are the transformative powers of science and technology.
Decisive, collective action is needed to uphold our shared responsibility to save lives and enable people to live lives of dignity.
For all of these reasons, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, which will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, on 23-24 May 2016. A uniquely inclusive process, the Summit will be a critical moment to set a new vision on how to meet the needs of the millions of people affected by conflicts and disasters.
The Summit will take place within an unprecedented global drive for change. It is situated within the push for the renewal of global frameworks for disaster risk reduction (Sendai, March 2015), sustainable development (New York, September 2015), climate change (Paris, December 2015), and urban development (Quito, October 2016). It will also benefit from the reviews of the UN peacebuilding architecture (June 2015), UN peace operations (also June 2015), and the Women, Peace and Security agenda (October 2015); the High-Level Panels on Humanitarian Financing (November 2015) and the Global Response to Health Crises (December 2015); and the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (Geneva, December 2015). Finding new ways to address humanitarian needs and to comprehensively manage risk will be a critical part of this global agenda.
At the heart of these concurrent processes is an effort to redefine how the global community delivers for the world’s most vulnerable people, even as rapid chang es are putting more people at risk. Global trends such as climate change, urbanization, economic growth and inequality, food insecurity and resource scarcity have impacts that extend far beyond national boundaries in our interconnected world. A window of opportunity is now open to transform the collective approach to managing and mitigating new risks, and to work together to support the poorest and most vulnerable people, enabling them to live dignified lives.
This is a collective endeavour. We cannot achieve development or disaster risk reduction goals without reaching the millions caught up in humanitarian crises.
Increasingly, no country or organization can respond to these challenges alone. A change in how we prepare and respond to crises is needed to leverage the strengths and abilities of affected people and communities affected by crises, and those of a broader and more diverse group of actors.
The World Humanitarian Summit will be a defining moment in which to reinforce our collective responsibility to save lives, prevent and alleviate suffering and uphold human dignity in crises. Heads of State and Government, and stakeholders from multi-lateral and other humanitarian organizations, the private sector, academia, and affected communities will come together to announce support of a future agenda for action, forge new partnerships, and find practical solutions to pressing humanitarian challenges of today and tomorrow, in order to build a safer and more humane world for all.
Between May 2014 and July 2015, eight regional consultations involving more than 23,000 people, as well as major thematic and stakeholder consultations and online dialogues took place, backed by over 400 written submissions. They consistently called for change in how we prepare and respond to crises, in how we work together and ultimately in how we deliver with and for the millions of people whose lives are caught up in crisis, now almost always for a protracted period measured in years and not months.
This inclusive consultation process resulted in five major areas for action, each presenting an ambition for the future of humanitarian action. From this foundation, stakeholders can build the commitments, partnerships and transformative actions required to deliver change at the World Humanitarian Summit.uired to deliver change at the World Humanitarian Summit