Image by EU/Pierre Prakash
  • Report
  • 11 December 2019

Key questions and considerations for donors at the triple nexus: lessons from UK and Sweden: Chapter 5

Conclusions and recommendations


The two studies of the experiences and approaches taken by Sweden and the UK highlighted a diverse range of policies, practices and challenges. There is a shared commitment to action and a mixed picture of progress. The studies clearly show that there is no single model for putting the nexus commitments into practice and therefore these need to be developed according the particularities of each donor. Nonetheless, several common suggestions emerged which are relevant for all donors and should be considered as they seek to implement the Development Assistance Committee’s triple nexus recommendation:

Overarching policy and operational strategy

  • Donor policy frameworks often indicate humanitarian, development and peacebuilding priorities. Separation can be necessary to maintain a principled humanitarian approach, though to build the necessary foundation for the nexus, it is critical that policies include an explicit steer to build complementarity as a minimum, and where appropriate to the context, to build coherence and collaboration. Incorporating flexible and crisis- and risk-informed priorities into development policies are key aspects of this.
  • While there is a longer history of connecting humanitarian and development approaches through resilience, building synergies with peace demands further consideration. In order to protect need-based assistance from political imperatives, donors need to define parameters for relevant and appropriate peace and security approaches, and equally, the limits of the nexus concerning humanitarian responses.
  • To fill the gap of the ‘missing middle’ between top-level policy and operational country, regional and sector strategies, developing operational guidance on the nexus is a critical step for transforming this agenda into action. Clarifying key concepts and associated terms is a prerequisite for this and requires confronting different internal conceptions of the purpose of official development assistance (ODA). It will be crucial here to balance the provision of central guidance to encourage a systematised approach with efforts to maintain unrestrictive, context-responsive and tailored innovation.

Programming and allocation cycle

  • Joined-up action must be based on a comprehensive and common situation analysis – bringing together the multiple dimensions of risks, vulnerabilities and needs. These crisis and risk-informed assessments need to be regularly reviewed, well-synchronised and central to all strategic allocation processes.
  • Programming on the nexus has developed organically in response to opportunities in specific contexts, rather than being driven by a top-down blueprint. There is a clear need to document, learn from and share these programming examples within and between donors to develop an evidence base and to develop and refine models. This requires investment in both internal systems within donors and specifically supporting partners to build learning into their programming.
  • The benefits of integrating contingency and risk financing mechanisms into humanitarian programmes are clear in terms of enabling scale-up in response to contextual change. The challenge now is to broaden the uptake and standardise the use of these mechanisms in development and peacebuilding programmes. Decentralised decision-making and flexible funding can allow country teams significant scope to respond to new contexts or analysis. This now needs to become routine rather than discretionary.
  • Systematically integrating risk, resilience, peacebuilding and inclusion and identifying appropriate qualitative and quantitative outcome-level indicators and beneficiary feedback mechanisms in the programme design and quality assurance phase is a first step to measuring progress on the nexus. Drawing upon learning from donor’s own programming and efforts to build ‘collective outcomes’ at the country level, donors should iteratively co-develop with partners a menu of outcome indicators on risk, resilience, peacebuilding and inclusion.
  • For donor partnerships with non-governmental organisations and multilateral agencies to strategically contribute to the nexus, it will be vital that donors work collectively at global and country levels to co-develop and clearly communicate shared expectations on risk, resilience and peace outcomes with partners, and integrate these into partner performance agreements and reviews in a way that genuinely supports and encourages effective programming rather than increasing report burdens.

Operational structure, leadership and staffing

  • Strong leadership on the nexus is fundamental to progress. It will be critical that the highest level of donor management identifies and communicates the nexus as a cross-organisational collective priority, directly mandating existing or new internal learning and technical working groups on the nexus.
  • Donors must ensure that staff with the right skills are in the right places and are given enough time to invest in identifying opportunities and making connections. This can be done by investing in training, cross-team learning and inter-team deployments as well as embedding expectations on risk, resilience and peacebuilding in staff performance management systems. Supporting dedicated staff leadership on the nexus will be crucial, by establishing multidisciplinary teams from the outset of and in all phases and types of crises, and/or appointing dedicated staff with the skills and responsibilities to support and catalyse colleagues and partners to implement the nexus.