Humanitarian Response Forum (HRF) Annual Meeting
Opening Remark by the UN Resident Coordinator, Pauline Tamesis
- H.E. Prak Kim Hong, Deputy Secretary-General of the Secretariat General of National Committee for Disaster Management
- Co-chairs of HRF: Ms. Claire Conan, Representative and Country Director, World Food Programme (WFP), and Ms. Kristen Rasmussen, Country Director, DanChurchAid (DCA)
- Colleagues, friends
It’s a pleasure to be at the HRF Annual Meeting with all of you.
Year two of the pandemic taught us many lessons on resilience and how to respond to interlinked emergencies – the public health crisis, rising inequalities, combined with the disastrous effects of a changing climate.
Reflecting upon the challenges of today's crisis and disasters helps us better prepare for the future. COVID-19 exposed the fragility in our systems and showed the inequality faced by many in the world today; those with the least are being impacted the most. This is true for disasters and climate-related hazards as well.
For 10 years the HRF has been a unique multi-stakeholder coordination forum with 60+ UN and INGOs involved in disaster management/emergency preparedness and response. Its goal is to enhance the coherence of UN and INGO support to the Government.
This meeting presents an opportunity to define the HRF’s role in a multi-shock landscape (climate hazards, COVID, economic); How can we improve inter-agency coordination? How to elevate engagement with Government, Development Partners, private sector? How to build on lessons from the past?
The HRF has collectively responded to numerous climate hazards (flood, drought) from 2012 to 2021, following a multi-sectoral approach as an organizing principle. Recent examples include the 2015-16 El Nino drought and 2020 floods.
It is encouraging to see that since 2020, HRF has broadened its scope and mobilized for additional shocks, e.g. COVID-19 and migrants. Steps have been taken to embed anticipatory/early action across business processes and move away from traditional reactive approaches.
The HRF has a track record of successful engagement with NCDM and CRC at national and subnational levels for specific events and its role is well recognized by development partners and donors at national and regional levels.
Yet, how can we be better prepared for future multi-shock scenarios? There are still some existing gaps.
- Inconsistencies in implementation of the Disaster Management Law and NAP-DRR, including questions of which agency leads the response, created challenges at times for HRF to support and engage with national systems and actors.
- On the design, structure and governance of the HRF:
- The HRF structure was designed based on an adapted version of the IASC global cluster system (to suit the Cambodian context) but is not directly linked to global cluster leads. Would it be necessary and relevant to do so?
- There is no agreement amongst HRF members on HRF governance/leadership processes for decision making.
- How should HRF review and update its TORs and Contingency Plan for new/future hazard scenarios context and adjust its governance processes? How can subnational coordination be strengthened and address fragmentation?
- On systems for high-level and regular engagement with the Royal Government, particularly with NCDM and MEF, how do we mainstream and formalize the arrangements?
- [which leads to the importance of] Financing and national budget allocation, how can we address the need for dedicated funding for emergency preparedness and response as a policy priority?
- These issues were also raised in the related discussions on building shock-resilient social protection systems. We are learning from past experience of the need to understand the broader impacts of climate change for better adaptation, rather than focusing on specific climate-related hazards alone.
- The pandemic response and climate action are teaching us that limited cooperation between humanitarian and development actors is no longer tenable. We must work together across the humanitarian-development nexus to ensure, among others, synergies between disaster management and social protection spaces.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you can hear, a lot of groundwork has already been done, and I thank the HRF co-chairs for leading this learning journey. Based on…
- The outcomes of last year’s HRF Action After Review;
- The results of the HRF review survey (phase 1);
- and lessons learned from multiple climate and non-climate related shocks/crises in 2020-2021 (COVID, floods, migrants, etc.)
…Now is the time to progress on the HRF review. To agree on the objectives, scope, process, expected outcomes and roles/responsibilities defined and agreed between HRF members, UNRCO, OCHA and other stakeholders (e.g., RGC, IOs/DPs).
Priority areas for the HRF review include the HRF’s scope of work, governance/leadership structure, decision-making processes and coordination with RGC and others.
I am committed as the RC (and as the de-facto humanitarian coordinator) to support this review, hopefully with the help of OCHA; and also building in aspects of foresight to make sure our work is future-fit, to anticipate new risks and opportunities. UN Global Pulse will support the foresight capabilities building.
We cannot do this alone, we need help from HRF members, from Government partners, and from the regional and global level.
I am looking forward to hearing the discussions about the HRF in a new COVID era.
I thank you.