Good afternoon everyone. Under the Secretary-General’s leadership, the United Nations and the World Bank Group have made significant progress in working together to help the poor and the vulnerable. Over the last three years, we’ve sought to use the UN’s peacekeeping and peace-building expertise and the World Bank Group’s development knowledge and financing to try to bring stability and prosperity to fragile regions of Africa and the Middle East.
Before I turn to today’s subject, I’d like to thank the world’s humanitarian workers who put their lives at risk everyday on the front lines of emergencies. The targeted attacks on hospitals in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Syria are crimes against humanity. This must stop. Humanitarian workers are acting with great courage, and the world’s leaders must act with courage as well to do all in their power to stop these attacks.
Today’s roundtable brings together the development and humanitarian communities in pursuit of an even more ambitious goal: increasing the impact of humanitarian action in the face of new threats, such as climate change, pandemics and an unprecedented refugee crisis. Although it isn’t as widely discussed, I would also put early childhood development, and particularly the high rates of childhood stunting in many countries, as another major global threat.
We at the World Bank Group are new to this field of humanitarian crises – we have worked for 70 years on reconstruction and the longer-term development of low- and middle-income nations. But humanitarian crises often last for years, some a generation or more, and we know that we cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. I speak today on behalf of the multilateral development banks. Let me suggest three ways in which the World Bank Group and all the multilateral development banks can work together, especially in protracted humanitarian responses.
First, we will work with all of you to produce new data and evidence to promote a risk-based approach – as well as apply our global knowledge from the field -- to identify and support what works best in specific environments to prevent crises and respond to the needs of refugees and host countries. We also commit to working with all of you to use this evidence to go upstream to do the kind of risk analysis that might allow us to prevent conflicts and fragility.
Second we must embrace the power of leveraging public funds for greater impact. It’s difficult to imagine any other way of achieving a scale of response that is truly equal to the challenge. The World Bank Group has developed the MENA financing facility and is now working on a global crisis response platform, which would provide resources for risk mitigation and crisis response to low- and middle-income countries with an immediate focus on countries hosting refugees across the world. We plan to launch this platform in September at the UN General Assembly. Working with humanitarian actors and with countries hosting refugees, we will develop financing schemes with long-term, extremely low-interest loans that can support relevant development projects at appropriate scale.
And third, we will explore the tying of this funding to specific outcomes in addressing protracted humanitarian crises. We believe there is work to be done in defining the outcomes that we want and we stand ready to help. Once the desired outcomes are clear, a program we call P4R – program for results – would, for example, release financing to countries and to approved humanitarian actors when the results are achieved. This program has transformed development work, and I believe this performance-based financing could do the same for protracted humanitarian emergencies.
Maximizing the impact of our investments means they must target the forcibly displaced and host communities together and at the same time. Today, seven Multilateral Development Banks issued a joint statement to show their full commitment to a collective response to the forced displacement crisis, including joint action on data and evidence, country-level engagements, and innovative financing mechanisms. We’re also committed to working with the multilateral development banks to explore how Islamic social finance can be channeled to meet humanitarian needs.
These commitments require us to update existing financing tools and adopt new approaches to raising resources, including stopping illicit financing flows and improving tax collection practices. Even struggling countries can, with help, improve domestic resource mobilization. We’re committed to building on current funding platforms and developing new ones, such as one that I mentioned earlier -- a global crisis response platform -- that would mobilize financing for low- and middle-income countries hosting refugees.
As we work with donors to replenish the International Development Association, our fund for the poorest countries, we will be seeking to significantly increase allocations to fragile states and develop specific channels to support efforts to tackle forced displacement.
I’m optimistic at the potential of these possibilities, especially since the steps we’ve taken to date are already helping the poor and the vulnerable. By working together, we can do better with what we have, and have more to do even better. Our efforts together will make the world more just and more prosperous.