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Final 13 October 2015

Note on the peace-humanitarian-development nexus in

key post-2015 reviews, processes and frameworks
UN Working Group on Transitions


The “silos” established by the Charter in dividing responsibilities between the principal intergovernmental Organs are directly and unhelpfully mirrored in the distribution of responsibilities between the different UN entities. They communicate with each other in different ways and at various levels, but there is general recognition that deep fragmentation persists, as each entity focuses on its own specific mandate at the expense of over-all coherence, added to the absence of a more forceful culture of coordination from the top. A particular additional layer of fragmentation is added between the UN’s Secretariat and its agencies, funds and programmes, with structural disincentives and even prohibitions against mixing or pooling their respective funding streams.”

The Challenges of Sustaining Peace report, para. 63.

  1. In 2015, various reforms, reviews and frameworks – henceforth referred as “the global agendas” – are producing recommendations that will shape the future of global governance for the years to come. While the global agendas are procedurally, legally and chronologically quite distinct, focusing on specific pieces of the broader UN system and its roles, mandates and organizational arrangements, many of their problem statements, derived principles, policy/paradigm shifts and areas of action have significant degrees of similarities and overlaps. To shape the United Nations and its partners to be “fit for purpose” to deliver on the ambitious commitments emanating from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is fundamental that all these agendas present a coherent picture of current challenges and solutions in a complementary, coordinated, indivisible and self-reinforcing manner, recognizing that this requires system-wide engagement beyond institutional silos. All the global agendas highlight the need for coherent and holistic approaches as it is widely recognized that they each hold elements of the other’s solutions and that the SDG commitments are fundamentally interdependent. If the global agendas are not better integrated, simply put, these commitments will not be achieved.

  1. Through the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, Member States have stressed the “important role and comparative advantage of an adequately resourced, relevant, coherent, efficient and effective United Nations system in supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and sustainable development”.1 The need for greater coherence has also been highlighted by Member States at various intergovernmental fora, including through the ECOSOC dialogue on the long-term positioning of the UN Development System (UNDS). During the ECOSOC dialogue, the Member States have suggested that the post-2015 development agenda serves as a window of opportunity to take a comprehensive look at the funding architecture for operational activities; including to ensure availability of “better system-wide statistics, analysis and reporting on the volume, sources and destination of funding flows for UN operational activities”.2

  1. On 6 July 2015, members of the UN Working Group on Transitions have decided to map out the most important interlinkages among key post-2015 reviews, reforms and processes. This initiative will support and feed into the UN Development Group (UNDG) ASG Advisory Group retreat, as well as other processes and reports, including the Chief Executives Board and the Secretary-General’s reports on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).

  1. This note focuses on the commonalities and synergies between the three peace and security reviews (the report of the Advisory Group of Experts (AGE) on the Peacebuilding Architecture Review, the Report of the High-Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations (HIPPO) and the ongoing Global Study on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325); the preliminary key messages from the two ongoing Humanitarian processes (World Humanitarian Summit and the High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing); the High-Level Panel on Global Response to Health Crises; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the outcome of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (Addis Ababa Action Agenda); the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR); and previous outcomes of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) intergovernmental process.3

Global health threats, more frequent and intense natural disasters, spiralling conflict, violent extremism, terrorism and related humanitarian crises and forced displacement of people threaten to reverse much of the development progress made in recent decades. Natural resource depletion and adverse impacts of environmental degradation, including desertification, drought, land degradation, freshwater scarcity and loss of biodiversity, add to and exacerbate the list of challenges which humanity faces. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development.”

Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, para. 14

  1. The changing operational landscape for development and humanitarian activities and peace operations has been framed by the different agendas in strikingly similar ways (see Annex 2). Common challenges related to all kinds of shocks and stresses, including new trends in violent conflicts and natural hazards, inform the problem statements of the various processes, reviews and frameworks. This section explores the commonalities and key messages emanating from a review of the global agendas, specifically regarding the underlying challenges and their stated root causes. It identifies the key elements of an emerging common narrative that suggests that the scope, complexity and sheer interconnectedness of today’s problems have surpassed the ability of the UN and Member States to address them individually. While many of the self-reinforcing and overlapping analysis may not be new, the fact that the global agendas are prominently referring to similar problem statements may be an opportunity to create new pathways and different modus operandi to address long-standing problems.

More intractable and protracted crises globally

  1. Global challenges such as the changing nature of conflict and the rise of violent extremism are making crises more intractable and protracted. The world is facing a record-breaking 60 million forcibly displaced people (which include 19.5 million refugees, 1.8 million asylum seekers and 38.2 million internally displaced people) – half of which are women and the majority finding refuge in urban areas, not in camp settings. Children below 18 years of age constituted 51 per cent of the refugee population in 2014, the highest figure in more than a decade. The number of refugees and IDPs continues to grow and the length of stay in host countries has been on the rise in recent decades. For example, more than 75 per cent of displaced people live in a state of protracted displacement lasting for more than 5 years. They live in “second exile”, caught between the inability to return to their homes and the lack of durable solutions elsewhere. Since 2008 the number of major violent conflicts has almost tripled. About two-thirds of UN peacekeepers today and 90 per cent of staff working in Special Political Missions are working in and on countries affected by high-intensity conflict.4 This situation is also reflected in the humanitarian side of the UN, where roughly 80 per cent of emergency response is undertaken in protracted conflict-affected situations, with Syria and its regional impact alone accounting for over 40 per cent of the 2015 record-breaking $18 billion global humanitarian appeal.5

  1. In its preamble, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, highlights the interconnectedness between peace and development, which is also the common thread among many of the processes analysed in this note: “there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”6

  1. Even the agendas that do not explicitly focus on conflict such as the SFDRR and FfD, refer to the same root causes of vulnerability as threats to development7 and underlying disaster risks drivers.8 For example, the absence of livelihoods, social economic deprivation, inequalities, chronic poverty, climate change, unplanned urbanization, disputes over land management, water scarcity, demographic changes and weak institutions are cross-referenced throughout the global agendas, as either disaster risk drivers in the SFDRR, conflict drivers in AGE and HIPPO or drivers of humanitarian need and factors contributing to complex health crises.

  1. The compounding effect of these global challenges creates new risks and exacerbates existing ones, which in turn can undermine peace, reverse development gains and create additional humanitarian needs. Given these challenges, all the global agendas share a concern that not enough is done to anticipate and prevent crises as well as strengthen resilience to the complex nexus between multi-hazards shocks and stresses. A more anticipatory approach to managing natural disaster risks and preventing lapse and relapse into conflict is a key element of commonalities among their problem statements.

Institutional fragmentation

  1. The multi-dimensional nature of many of the challenges the UN faces, and the interlinkages among them, makes the fragmentation of the UN particularly problematic. The global agendas, including the SDGs with its universal commitment to a people-centred approach that aims to leave no one behind, require greater coherence among all parts of the UN to collectively support Member States in realizing their commitments. It also requires a deeper collective understanding of the interconnections and the issues that run across the global agendas. Institutional and sectorial fragmentation is therefore a major hurdle for achieving transformational impact.

Exclusion of women and girls

  1. The global agendas acknowledge that gender inequality is a key challenge. They highlight the importance of gender mainstreaming and the role of women, as central for the success of their respective objectives, particularly in peacebuilding, development, disaster risk reduction, climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as effective humanitarian action. Half the world’s forcibly displaced are women. Sexual violence is used as a tactic to displace refugee and IDP populations, while the ideological opposition of many extremist groups to girls entering public spaces, including educational institutions, is placing them at a heightened risk. The exclusion of women from employment opportunities and the systematic underpayment of women, are obstacles for sustainable development. The agendas require an all-of-society-approach that takes into account and further enables women to make significant contributions to peace and development.

Failure to recognize the centrality of political solutions to tackle global challenges

  1. The centrality or primacy of politics is an important theme among the global agendas, as many of the challenges depicted in their problem statements are directly linked to the lack or weakness of political considerations and decisions and solutions to today’s most intractable crises. The lack of inclusive national ownership and governance arrangements in development policies, peace processes and disaster risk reduction initiatives, are essential elements of the global agenda problem statements.

Lack of collective action

  1. The agendas highlight the lack of a collective vision to manage cross-cutting global challenges through flexible, adaptable, context-specific and interoperable planning mechanisms and frameworks for action that are able to deliver in complex operating environments and are adapted to the needs of the most vulnerable people. While 62 per cent of the world’s poor are expected to be living in fragile states by the time the SDGs come to a close in 2030,9 the absence of sustained donor support to focus on a long-term collective agenda rather than short-term outputs and disconnected results could impair the effective implementation of the SDGs. The global agendas express concern over the gap between Member State pledges to funding long-term solutions that address collective problems, such as climate change, prevent lapse and relapse of conflict, forced displacement, reduce disaster risks, including those of complex health emergencies, and their inconsistent actions towards this pledge.

Insufficient partnerships

  1. Finally, there is a lack of effective partnerships with actors – including political and financial ones – within and beyond the UN, at the international, regional, sub-regional, national and local levels, that could effectively support reducing the vulnerability of people affected by shocks and stresses. It is clear that implementing the global agendas cannot be done by the UN system alone. There is a need for a holistic approach across actors to these interconnected agendas that is more inclusive and targets the underlying causes of economic, environmental, social and political upheaval. Current partnerships must be strengthened and new partnerships must be explored to enhance delivery, based on cost-effectiveness and comparative advantages.

Development finance can contribute to reducing social, environmental and economic vulnerabilities and enable countries to prevent or combat situations of chronic crisis related to conflicts or natural disasters. We recognize the need for the coherence of developmental and humanitarian finance to ensure more timely, comprehensive, appropriate and cost-effective approaches to the management and mitigation of natural disasters and complex emergencies.(…) We recognize the major challenge to the achievement of durable peace and sustainable development in countries in conflict and post- conflict situations. We recognize the peacebuilding financing gap and the role played by the Peacebuilding Fund. We will step up our efforts to assist countries in accessing financing for peacebuilding and development in the post-conflict context.”

Addis Ababa Action Agenda, paras. 66 and 67
The SDGs and their many building blocks

  1. The most encompassing framework is the post-2015 development agenda and the associated 17 sustainable development goals, which includes issues of peace, justice and governance. While the costs of implementing the agenda have not been fully determined, estimates range from $3.5 trillion to $5 trillion a year.10 Given the scope of the SDGs, their universal character, applied to developed and developing countries, and their ambition to leave no one behind, the financing of all global agendas can be understood as an integral element of implementing the SDGs.

  1. The financing for development framework proposes that 0.7 per cent11 of the GNI of developed countries is devoted to Official Development Assistance (ODA), one of the financing streams supporting the SDGs. Based on the 2014 figures, this would be in the range of $300 billion to $400 billion per year (0.7% of $42-$57 trillion).12 The Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing has estimated that it would cost about $66 billion per year13 to maintain a social safety net to eradicate extreme poverty, which is one of the SDGs. The extent to which this new agenda will impact the total operational cost of the UN system ($43 billion in 201314) has not been quantified.

  1. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has estimated that $100 billion per year15 should be invested in mitigation of and adaption to climate change in developing countries. This annual target should be reached by 2020. Funding for this has to come from the public and private sectors, for instance via a carbon tax. In 2013, $4 billion16 of gross ODA was invested in climate change mitigation and adaption. The Green Climate Fund created by the UNFCCC has received pledges from 35 countries totalling $10 billion,17 of which $6 billion has been signed. The level of UN-led implementation of projects underlying the $100 billion appeal and projects from the Green Climate Fund is still unclear. It is also unclear if the $100 billion goal accounts for new funds or the reorganization of previous pledges and whether it includes private financing.18 Greater clarity is needed on how climate financing goals fit within the overall ODA envelope of Member States, especially at the recipient country level, where all financial flows should be better interlinked and underpinned by a common theory of change to maximize their impact towards achieving collective outcomes.

  1. In 2014, the UN humanitarian appeal was $18 billion,19 while the total ODA expenditure on humanitarian activities was $13 billion.20 The UN received a little over $10 billion in 2013.21 In 2015, the humanitarian appeal is set at $20 billion.22 The largest portion of the appeal is intended for addressing the humanitarian situation in protracted crisis (Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen). Part of the humanitarian appeal is geared towards addressing the impact of natural disasters, which are significantly affected by climate change. Investments in mitigation of and adaption to climate change will reduce the humanitarian impact of natural disasters. The Sendai framework on DRR does not quantify the financing needs to implement priority actions, but highlights that the total economic loss attributable to the impact of natural disasters from 2005-2015 was more than $1.3 trillion.23

  1. The approved budget for peace operations for mid 2014 - mid 2015 is $8.5 billion.24 No long-term projections are made for the cost of UN peacekeeping operations. There is no figure available on the funding need of peacebuilding expenditure. As suggested in the AGE report, several development partners have started the process estimating the overall funding needs for sustaining peace. Estimates of ODA expenditure on peacebuilding in 2013 vary significantly and range from $2 to $8 billion.25 In 2014, the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) invested $100 million26 in peacebuilding programmes and requested the same amount from donors. The Peace Operations report, the Secretary-General’s report on that report and the peacebuilding architecture report highlight the need to prioritize and secure sustained funding for programming activities as part of the assessed budgets to peace operations. The peacebuilding architecture report suggests that initially a symbolic 1 per cent or at least $100 million27 of the total UN budgets for peace operations should be allocated to the PBF on top of voluntary contributions.

Recognizing the interlinkages

  1. The financial proposals underlying the post-2015 development agenda are closely interlinked. For example, investments in addressing climate change will reduce the risk of instability and probably funding needs for peacekeeping, peacebuilding and humanitarian support. Investments in conflict prevention, peacebuilding and conflict resolution will also increase stability and result in lower peacekeeping and humanitarian costs. Overtime, humanitarian appeals in particular, can be reduced by better investments in sustaining peace and addressing the root causes of conflict and building resilient societies. The humanitarian appeals will only decrease in size and scope if and when long-term solutions fundamentally address the root causes (political, economic, social and environmental) of humanitarian needs. Increasingly, conflict in itself causes the greatest degree of vulnerability and humanitarian need amongst affected populations and remains the biggest threat to human development according to the final Millennium Development Goals report.28

Table Various funding streams

* Total ODA includes humanitarian, debt relief, parts of funding for the UN system and part of peacebuilding

  1. Against this backdrop and the ambitious new development agenda, the UN should ensure more predictable, coherent and joined-up financing, clearly quantifying the building blocks of a more diversified, integrated and complementary global financing architecture (peacekeeping, peacebuilding, humanitarian, climate change, etc.), preferably over a multi-year basis. The UN system needs to arrive at a “common narrative” on funding issues, planning, programming and structural/architectural changes, in line with current Policy Committee resolutions, e.g. Integrated Assessment and Planning policy (2013) for integrated missions, and the Decision on Durable Solutions (2011). The forecasting of the cost of the UN system should be linked to this common narrative, which is part of a larger financing landscape including bilateral development assistance, international financial institutions (IFIs), regional development banks, private investment among others. Greater reliance on assessed contributions combined with increased use of inter-agency pooled funds capitalized through multi-year commitments could ensure predictability and allow for long-term joint strategic planning for UN programming.

The UN Secretariat must embrace the need for yet more change as it looks to the future. The world continues to evolve and so must the United Nations. The United Nations of tomorrow will be judged not by the quality of its conferences or its resolutions, but by the quality of its response”.

Uniting our Strengths for Peace report, para. 42

  1. The year 2015 presents an historic opportunity to shape the role of the United Nations to be better able to manage crisis risks of the future and leverage new opportunities for a more resilient future. The UNDG in particular is well positioned to support countries in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through a revised process of planning, costing, financing, implementation, monitoring and reporting that is inclusive of the diversity within and outside the UN system to jointly deliver collective outcomes. A strong 2016 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review will advance UNDS efforts to become “fit for purpose” to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In being “fit for purpose”, the primary “purpose” is to deliver sustainable development results at country level through joined-up capacities and resources for integrated and coherent policy and operations. We need to pursue strategic partnerships and forge issue-based coalitions to support these efforts. UN expertise should be offered across policy and technical areas that match country context and operational complexity. We need to invest in high-performing UN leaders on the ground by strengthening policies and procedures, tracking implementation of the mutual accountability framework and support to strengthened learning and performance management systems.

  1. The overlap between the solutions and recommendations proposed by the global agendas analysed in this note show the urgency of identifying, promoting and operationalizing greater synergies among a broader community of actors, including within and outside the UN, to enable sustainable development and peace. While there seems to be a broad consensus on common problem statements and on a collective way forward under the overarching scope of the SDGs, considerable obstacles need to be addressed in order to translate global commitments into action. The subsections below provide a snapshot on the key common solutions and recommendations.

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