Advancing progress on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus
Building synergies between short-term humanitarian assistance and longer-term development and peacebuilding approaches across the ‘triple nexus’ is vital if we are to address the impact of crisis on poverty, risk and vulnerability and ensure that no one is left behind. This is especially the case in protracted crises where efforts from humanitarian, development and peace actors are often required in concert. With a growing proportion of the world’s poorest people set to reside in fragile and protracted crisis countries by 2030, there is now clear recognition of the need for longer-term development approaches in what was traditionally deemed humanitarian or peacebuilding-related contexts.
Momentum behind this agenda has been renewed following the adoption of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) recommendation on the ‘triple’ humanitarian–development–peace nexus in February 2019. This expanded the earlier ‘dual’ humanitarian–development nexus to incorporate peace and provides a set of working principles for DAC donors on the nexus. The report by the UN Secretary General in May 2019 on sustaining peace also helped to cement the inclusion of peace in the triple nexus. Most donors and implementing agencies now recognise that this shift is a pre-requisite for improving aid effectiveness, and are in the initial stages of transforming nexus-related policy into practice. Learning and evidence from these efforts need to be documented and shared at institutional and country levels for broader uptake and scale-up.
To date, the centre of gravity on this agenda has rested with the humanitarian community. Yet progress towards longer-term approaches in protracted crises cannot be achieved without the equal engagement of development and peace actors operating in crisis-affected contexts.
The purpose of our work
Our work on this agenda provides donors and implementing agencies with the necessary evidence and learning to implement policy on this area in practice. This is prerequisite for strengthening the overall effectiveness of aid being spent to help vulnerable people in protracted crises. Through our research, we provide evidence that brings greater clarity to the concept (as there is currently a lack of clarity between agencies) regarding the practical application of the triple nexus. We highlight key considerations, overarching questions and challenges to address. We also seek to strengthen the evidence base necessary for mobilising the involvement and ownership of all actors relevant to the nexus.
Our research on this agenda is focused on the following areas:
At the global level, our work focuses on assessing and generating evidence about:
- Current donor approaches to delivering on nexus-related commitments
- Lessons from current approaches that can be benefit all donors
- The appropriateness of global financing mechanisms in protracted and recurring crises for responding to the needs of vulnerable and crisis-affected people.
We also seek to bring together and facilitate discussions between humanitarian, development and peace actors. This is to expand the ownership of the nexus beyond the humanitarian community, as well as share evidence and data across the board to forge synergies and address more fundamental structural and system-wide issues.
At the country level, we focus on the generating evidence on the practical application of the nexus for wider application on:
- Policy and strategy that drives decisions of relevance to the nexus
- Programming approaches that deliver the nexus and the organisational staffing, structures and leadership that enables it.
As part of this, we also explicitly focus on financing as a central aspect the nexus approach, not just in terms of funding responses but also for incentivising joined-up working across all aspects of the programming cycle. We look in particular at the role of development actors operating in protracted crisis contexts and what can be done to strengthen their engagement throughout a crisis working collaboratively with humanitarian and peace actors.
Donors clearly play a vital role in testing and developing innovative approaches to operationalise and finance the nexus, yet most donors are in the initial stages of implementing nexus policy in terms of how they work both internally and externally. Therefore, in 2019, we undertook a series of studies that documented and shared current donor practice at the nexus. This work has been used to inform practical global learning and spark dialogue about key questions on how to advance progress on the nexus. We undertook qualitative and quantitative research and produced two reports which take a detailed look at the experiences of the UK and Sweden, along with a synthesis report which drew out lessons, practical examples and questions of wider relevance to donors. Our work is helping answer key questions faced by all donors at strategic, principled and practical levels on the nexus. As a result of this work we are now in discussion with the UK, Sweden and other donors on how they can take on board the recommendations we are making so that they can improve their efforts on the nexus.
“The recommendations are very rich and will form a really good basis to think through institutional change.”Barbara Lecq, Protracted Crises Adviser, UK Department for International Development
We also launched a series of webinars focused on strengthening joined-up approaches to financing and operations across development and crisis sectors. We have brought together key actors from all sides to share knowledge and lay the foundations for building greater coherence. The first webinar, ‘What do emerging trends in development finance mean for crisis actors?’, in May 2019 provided actors working in fragile and crisis contexts with information on development financing processes, structures and trends. Participants had the chance to hear from development and crisis finance experts, pose questions and explore the possibilities for joint working towards financing for collective outcomes. The second webinar, ‘Financing trends in crisis-affected contexts: Launch of the 2019 Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) Report’, in October 2019 presented findings from our Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2019 and sought to facilitate discussion among development and crisis decision-makers on what these findings mean for responses in protracted crises. The third webinar, ‘Donors at the triple nexus’, in April 2020 was a closed event for donors which shared the key lessons and best practice emerging from DI’s study on donor approaches to the nexus, which focused on the UK and Sweden in detail. The event created space for donors to discuss the recommendations emerging from the research and opportunities to work collectively on this agenda moving forward.
In 2021 we are continuing our work to support more effective collaboration, coordination and coherence between humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actors. Development Initiatives (DI) has published country studies on the role of development actors in crisis in Cameroon, Somalia and Bangladesh, as well as synthesising the findings. We will engage with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee and the International Network on Conflict and Fragility to discuss the findings.
Through this outreach, we aim to promote the implementation of existing commitments, including the OECD DAC Recommendation on the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus, as well as addressing some of the key challenges to greater collaboration and coherence and promoting best practices, particularly in financing nexus approaches.
We will also conduct outreach on the findings in each of the case study countries, working with the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, and UN offices in-country to broaden our reach. DI will draw out specific recommendations for action at the country level, to help international and national actors develop more coherent and effective long-term responses to the crises within these countries. Through this outreach we aim to enable enhanced common understanding on the roles, contributions and areas and means of collaboration between humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actors, as well as the uptake and taking to scale of good practice in collective programming, financing and coordination.
DI will use these discussions to determine where further analysis is needed to improve the delivery of financing to people affected by crisis. Areas for future work might include examining the role of multilateral development banks in crisis contexts, displacement financing, tracking financing at national and subnational levels and the wider coherence of ‘crisis financing’.
When crises develop, they frequently last for many years, holding millions of people in a pattern of enduring humanitarian need. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing need and re-enforced the importance of supporting people not just to respond once crises hit, but to also to build their longer-term resilience to risks and to address the underlying factors that may make them vulnerable when shocks occur. Addressing these wider issues of crisis response, beyond immediate humanitarian need, and understanding how a wider range of actors can contribute to the short- and long-term needs of those experiencing crisis, is critical if humanitarian needs are to be reduced and the incidence and impact of crises minimised.