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  • Blog
  • 10 January 2020

Countering isolationism with collaboration as we enter the decade of delivery

In the context of growing isolationism, DI's Harpinder Collacott reflects on the past few years and looks to the future, arguing that collaboration will be key to making progress in the decade of delivery.

Written by Harpinder Collacott

Chief Executive Officer

Five years ago, we saw a host of agreements that set out a bold vision for a better world: the Addis Ababa Action Agenda set out a comprehensive framework for financing sustainable development in July 2015; the Iran Nuclear deal, concluded in the same month, was regarded as a significant step towards ensuring a safer world; the 2030 Agenda, adopted by 193 countries in September 2015, set out an ambitious and universal vision with a pledge to Leave No One Behind; at the Conference of Parties (COP 21) in December 2015, Parties to the UNFCCC reached the landmark Paris Agreement on action to combat climate change; and in May 2016, an Agenda for Humanity was agreed at the first World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, alongside the Grand Bargain, with the aim of getting more assistance into the hands of people in need.

Today we find ourselves in a world that looks different to what we perhaps anticipated back in 2015 – one in which progress against the ambitious global agenda has been slow and commitment to a multilateral approach waning. Nationalism and isolationism are gripping an increasing number of powerful countries; the US’ withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and Iran deal show this is far more than just worrying rhetoric; major donor governments are apparently becoming less ‘public-spirited’ in their aid spending, and ‘national interest’ and ‘national security’ are part of the common lexicon in the UK and US when aid is being discussed. The world is changing fast but as Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council wrote, “tomorrow’s picture looks bleak, but it does not need to become our reality”.

We at DI are passionate about ending poverty, reducing inequality, protecting those vulnerable to crisis, and increasing access to information that will give people agency, empowering them in their communities. And we remain part of a powerful movement that is equally as committed to these principles.

We all need to put unprecedented effort into working effectively together to maintain a powerful force for change and progress over the next ten years. For us at DI, the coming of the ‘decade of delivery’ therefore means we will be reaching out to work with more friends and partners than ever before.

There are three priorities where we hope to make headway in collaboration with others this coming year:

Ensuring the poorest people are being included in progress

The gap between the incomes of the poorest 20% of the population and everyone else is widening – both globally and in most countries. A key part of achieving faster than average progress for the poorest people is to radically improve data and evidence so that the people most in need are counted, included, and not left behind. We are already making headway in Benin, working closely with the government and civil society groups to apply an approach we developed to track the poorest 20% of people, understand their status and key trends that help identify how to target and support them. Building on this success, our Africa hub will be reaching out to new partners in Ethiopia and Kenya at the national and local level to implement the P20 approach and track the progress of the poorest people.

Advancing the triple nexus (humanitarian–development–peace nexus)

Greater coherence between humanitarian, development and peace agendas is needed to enable progress towards the shared goal of protecting the most vulnerable and ending poverty. Working in silos will not achieve our common objectives and the need to come together is now greater than ever. Although we have seen solid commitments to put the triple nexus into practice, as ever, the challenge lies in the delivery. Over the last year or so, DI has convened a series of webinars on the nexus, contributed think-pieces on the most pertinent issues, and published papers on how donors are delivering against this commitment. In 2020 DI will work closely with partners to bring forth new evidence on what works and give further recommendations for where change is needed. One area we will venture into this year and beyond is the common territory of climate change; and COP 26 in Glasgow offers a great opportunity to promote action on the triple nexus, since climate change is intrinsically linked to causes of crisis, poses huge risks to sustainable development, and is a known driver of conflict.

Inspiring greater action on malnutrition

DI hosts the Global Nutrition Report, a world-leading resource that assesses the state of global nutrition and holds stakeholders to account on delivering on their commitments. This will continue to be one of our top priorities, providing an important tool that inspires – and holds to account – governments, civil society and private stakeholders across the globe to take action to end malnutrition in all its forms. It is a great example of the power of a truly multi-stakeholder initiative and speaks to the entire spectrum of those who can play a role in ending malnutrition by 2030. We will ensure it continues to provide real value as an independent, credible and data-driven resource informing the Nutrition for Growth Summit to be held in Japan later this year.

DI will ensure that all of our friends and partners, old and new, across the globe continue to have access to the most relevant, data-driven analysis to support action to end poverty, inequality and vulnerability. We look forward to being in touch to get your reflections on our new strategy later in the year, and to working with you all in 2020 and beyond.