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Deputy Secretary-General, at World Summit Round-Table Event, Stresses Need to Move Away from Line Dividing Humanitarian, Development Efforts

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the High-Level Leaders’ Round Table “Changing People’s Lives:  From Delivering Aid to Ending Need”, in Istanbul today:

I call to order the High-Level Leaders’ Round Table on Changing People’s Lives:  From Delivering Aid to Ending Need, of the World Humanitarian Summit.

As the first Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, I have long grappled with the challenge of ensuring that emergency assistance and development efforts are mutually supportive.

With its promise to leave no one behind, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development compels the United Nations system to work together towards this goal in a new way.  We need to move away from the line dividing humanitarian work and development.  That won’t happen overnight.  But, this Summit must mark the beginning of the shift to a new approach — and we at the United Nations are fully committed to doing our part.

It has been said that humanitarians are like firefighters.  They put out fires; they don’t get involved in building houses.  But, smart firefighters also advise people how to prevent fires and fire-proof their homes.  Humanitarian crises will never be truly reduced until we strengthen core development work, such as basic infrastructure.  No one can solve problems in isolation.  The most important word in today’s world is “together”.

The United Nations intends to lead by example.  Today, the Secretary-General, along with the leaders of the United Nations development and humanitarian efforts, are putting forward a joint commitment.  Our agencies, funds and programmes commit to collective, concrete operational action to bridge the humanitarian-development divide.  Specifically, our commitment today will include such action as pooled and combined data and analysis; joined-up planning and programming; and new financing modalities to support collective outcomes.  In other words, the nitty gritty that is so critical to making change happen on the ground.

As I said, Istanbul marks the beginning of our efforts.  It is not the end point, it is a turning point.  We are committed to working in a new way and taking the needed steps to change people’s lives for the better and leave no one behind.

Now let me pass the floor to our co-chairs for their statements.

For information media. Not an official record.