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 2020 we are undertaking research at the country level on the role of development actors in protracted crisis contexts to better understand and fill the evidence gap on what motivates and constrains development actors in crisis settings in achieving nexus commitments. This work will enable development actors to better understand how to adapt in a crisis context and work in effective collaboration with humanitarian and peace actors. We will give a range of practical examples and lessons about what works well and options for how to replicate and/or scale-up. Where relevant we will focus on bringing out learning across a range of relevant sectors – such as social protection, nutrition, education, health and climate and environmental resilience.
We will also identify opportunities to fill the evidence gap on the appropriateness of the range of global financing mechanisms operating in crisis contexts in achieving the ambitions of the triple nexus and meeting the needs and vulnerabilities of crisis-affected populations.