Resilience critical to more effective Syria response: UN Development Chief

Amman: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark affirmed the critical importance of resilience-based development to the international response to the ongoing crisis in Syria, in her closing remarks to the Resilience Development Forum. The high level conference was convened by UNDP over two days, 8 and 9 November 2015, in the Dead Sea in Jordan, and was hosted by the Government of Jordan.

“The resilience approach needs to be an integral part of the support provided to Syrians inside Syria and in neighbouring countries. It is also critical to enhance the resilience of communities and countries hosting Syrians,” stressed Clark. “Resilience-building requires greater and more-predictable investments and we must pursue more practical, novel and innovative funding modalities and instrument beyond existing classifications of international aid.”

The Forum brought together close to 400 representatives of leading partners involved in the Syria crisis response including Ministers from the countries most affected by the Syria crisis, UN development and humanitarian agencies working inside Syria and in neighbouring countries, alongside donors, partners from non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

The Forum tabled a strategic guidance document called the Dead Sea Resilience Agenda that sets guiding principles and advocates for strategic action elements that are needed for a robust and comprehensive response across the affected sub- region, which each country can adapt to inform and guide its own country-level response.

“The Resilience Agenda is a truly innovative and forward looking outcome document and its guiding principles are indeed a starting point for a new era of cooperation and global partnership in support of resilience in our region,” affirmed H.E. Imad Fakhoury, Jordan’s Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. “It provides a clear, consistent and collective vision that articulates short, mid and long-term goals for how to tackle the most pressing challenges in Syria and neighbouring countries.”

The guiding principles of the Dead Sea Resilience Agenda include prioritizing self-reliance and dignity of individuals; investing in local capacities and strengthening local institutions; engaging new actors in an inclusive partnership platform for resilience; fostering social cohesion to strengthen the social fabric of affected communities; and most importantly breaking away from traditional silos of humanitarian and development work operating independently in terms of programming and financing.

In his keynote address to the Forum, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres highlighted the critical importance of humanitarian and development actors work closely together to address the crises not only in Syria but across the world as well.

The Dead Sea Resilience Agenda also suggested 10 key action elements required for the Syria response going forward, including:

1. Strengthening the resilience of people, communities, and response capabilities inside Syria.

2. Increasing responsiveness and effectiveness by planning and delivering together.

3. Developing innovative, multi-year financing mechanisms and instruments to enhance financial predictability.

4. Strengthening local capacities by responding with and through local systems, institutions, and structures.

5. Expanding the use of program-based approaches for basic service delivery.

6. Engaging the private sector in the resilience response and developing new approaches.

7. Expanding opportunities by strengthening the enabling environment for established businesses and entrepreneurs.

8. Strengthening the legal and programmatic basis for – and dramatically scale up – economic opportunities for affected communities.

9. Cultivating capacities for dispute resolution among affected populations, public institutions, host communities, faith-based organizations, and other relevant entities.

10. Beginning planning and building capacities to enable future reconstruction and recovery efforts.

“Moving forward, these critical elements should be considered by host governments as part of their national response plans. They should also underpin a new partnership between host governments and international partners,” said Clark who reaffirmed that the financing of a resilience approach must match its ambition, adding that “The critical elements outlined in the Dead Sea Resilience Agenda should be key factors in shaping the organization and results of the upcoming international donor conference on the Syria crisis to be hosted by the UK in partnership with Norway and Germany.”