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Secretary-General, at High-level Event, Outlines ‘Moral Obligation to Do Better’ in Reducing Humanitarian Needs, Optimizing Resources for Pursuing Common Goals

Following are UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' remarks at the high-level event on the New Way of Working, in Addis Ababa today:

I am pleased to join you to discuss a new way of working that will usher in stronger partnerships and better results in our collective interventions in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance, peace and security.

It has been almost two years since the World Humanitarian Summit, when the international community outlined the changes that are needed to alleviate suffering, reduce risk and lessen vulnerability. The call for a New Way of Working to bridge the humanitarian-development divide will take time and a diverse range of actors, including those outside the United Nations system.

Let us be quite clear that this is not about shifting funding from development to humanitarian programmes or vice versa. It is about recognizing common goals and optimizing existing resources and capabilities to help all people in situations of risk, vulnerability and crisis. It is about working better together to reduce humanitarian needs over the medium to long term.

We must recommit to a focus on results and holding ourselves accountable by fully articulating collective outcomes.

Today we see a surge in conflict-induced humanitarian need in Syria, Yemen, [Democratic Republic of the Congo], South Sudan and elsewhere. That is why I have launched a push in diplomacy for peace, including mediation, to end and prevent conflict.

Increasingly frequent and more intense climate shocks are also creating record humanitarian needs. We have to redouble our efforts to address climate change. Climatic shocks disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people � who have done least to contribute to climate change � and there is an urgent need to increase the resilience of those impacted by drought, floods and other disasters.

We have a moral obligation to do better and we have the tools and knowledge to deliver on that obligation. We must break down the silos that have existed for too long between humanitarian and development actors.

Experience from countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Yemen and Somalia, where the new approach is working, offers us four valuable lessons. One, Government leadership and ownership is essential. The United Nations and development partners need to strengthen the capacities of national and local actors to effectively respond to needs, risk and vulnerability.

Two, we must collectively start from a common understanding of the challenges we face. It is imperative we have shared data, information and analysis. Three, to reach those furthest behind we need risk-informed joint planning, with Governments and all partners. In addition, we need to rethink programming and implementation to be context-specific, prioritizing areas of highest risk, and being prepared to accept security risk and the risk of failure.

Four, we need to redesign the financing architecture to promote predictability, flexibility and multi-year financing. We must engage international financing institutions and the private sector actor, including insurance actors, to develop innovative solutions � such as the weather-indexed insurance products for farmers and pastoralists that have already been piloted here in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is a good example of a country that has made great progress towards the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] and shown its commitment to meeting the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals]. However, like many countries in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is facing increasingly frequent droughts, and 2017 was the third consecutive drought affecting parts of the country. Today, nearly 8 million people need food assistance, 375,000 children risk severe malnourishment, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced due to drought and more than 3.1 million children have had their education affected.

The launch of the Productive Safety Net Programme in 2005 marked an important milestone for Ethiopia. The Government has also taken steps to mainstream climate-smart policies to build resilience. I am glad that the Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy has been mainstreamed in the second Growth and Transformation Plan of the Government of Ethiopia and that the national plan is aligned with the 2030 Agenda.

Ethiopia is also among of the first signatory countries to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. This framework is recognized as a critical entry point for all actors to demonstrate commitment to the New Way of Working by responding to protracted refugee situations. Let me note here that the United Nations is grateful to Ethiopia for hosting over 800,000 refugees. It's just a matter of generosity, Ethiopia is providing a public good by hosting refugees. Without this, it could have destabilizing effect in the region. We look to support the nine pledges made by the Government to benefit the refugees located in some of the most drought-prone areas of the country.

In conclusion, the world spends much more energy and resources managing crises than preventing them. The United Nations must uphold a strategic commitment to a culture of prevention. It is my commitment as Secretary-General to work with you to ending suffering and restore the human dignity of every person.

The new way of working is our collective response to this end. We can make a change, we must make a difference, and we need to turn our words into real action.

Source: United Nations

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