By hosting the World Humanitarian Summit, Turkey is demonstrating political support at the highest level for its agenda. Now the international community have to act sincerely and not waste time with endless meetings that do not result in effective intervention
The World Humanitarian Summit to be held in Istanbul on May 23-24 will be one of the most inclusive and high-level platforms ever dedicated to revolutionizing the global humanitarian system in a way to better serve humanity and better keep up with the challenges in our changing world.
The summit is of great significance both in terms of its content and timing. U.N. data shows that there are more than 125 million people who are in need of humanitarian aid and that the number of people affected by conflicts and disasters has almost doubled in the last 10 years. It is obvious that business cannot continue as usual and drastic measures need to be taken immediately to reverse this trend.
In addition to its focus on effectiveness, inclusiveness, prevention and building resilience, the summit will draw attention to the synergy and link between humanitarian assistance and cooperation in development. The key is to establish a coordinated approach between humanitarian action providing relief to immediate suffering and development cooperation aimed at solving the root causes, supporting sustainable solutions, preventing crises and building resilient capacities.
With the advances in technology, we are able to reach more people in crisis situations much more quicker than in the past. Despite this, the ever growing number and scale of conflicts and disasters leaves a huge gap between international humanitarian efforts and people in need. Unfortunately, as the international community, we still have major room for improvement when it comes to objective priorities, coordinated efforts to combine resources, pre-emptive planning and implementation. The shortcomings of the international humanitarian system brings along the issue of legitimacy.
Research shows that by allocating existing resources more smartly we can make an important contribution to alleviating some of the current global crises. By preventing food loss and waste in the developed world we can make a difference in food-related crises in other parts of the world. This was highlighted during Turkey's time in the G20 presidency in 2015 by including food loss and waste among the priority areas.
TURKEY AND TİKA'S APPROACH:
SINCERITY AT THE CORE
The principle that people should be at the center of any cooperation and aid effort has always guided Turkey's approach. The summit will also stress this and place humanity at the focus of the principles and the road map that will be put forward.
As the main implementing actor of Turkish development cooperation, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) operates with a focus on implementation, sincerity, effectiveness, flexibility and inclusiveness free from preoccupations such as visibility and self-interest. Indeed, TİKA's cooperation philosophy runs parallel to the traditional foundation culture of our civilization. It is based on sincerity, selfless solidarity and assistance to those in need without discrimination, any ulterior motive or seeking personal gain in return.
TİKA's program in Somalia is one of the striking examples of Turkish modality of cooperation. It is based on a systemic approach involving coordinated action from a wide array of actors, including governmental and nongovernmental humanitarian aid agencies – with TİKA as the official development cooperation agency – the private sector and game-changing initiatives such as scheduled Turkish Airlines (THY) flights. As stated by Somali authorities, Turkey's intervention "changed the fate of Somalia."
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE OF THE
GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN SYSTEM:
RHETORIC INTO ACTION
The challenges of the 21st century transcend boundaries. As the international community, we should not be content with managing humanitarian crises. Effective and innovative common policies for crisis prevention and resilience building are of prime importance. Only when all parties, traditional and emerging donors, humanitarian and developmental actors, civil society, the private sector and politicians combine forces for this common cause can we reverse the grim trend in the humanitarian field, reach sustainable development goals (SDGs) and eradicate poverty.
By hosting the World Humanitarian Summit, Turkey is demonstrating political support at the highest level for its agenda.
It is our hope that decisions taken at the summit will transform into concrete action as soon as possible. As the international community, we have to act sincerely and not waste time at endless meetings that do not result in concrete and effective intervention. Otherwise we will continue to meet at fancy hotels and produce excellent reports and policies on paper, but still fail millions who struggle to survive and count on our prompt action. We have to transform rhetoric into real action at once. We are accountable to all children, women and men experiencing humanitarian crises.
If we want to bring about systemic improvement in the humanitarian field we have to be ready and willing to sacrifice some of our own wealth and comfort in exchange of healing the wounds of those who suffer the horrors of conflict, terrorism and disasters, which are unimaginable in some parts of the world.
As we approach the holy month of Ramadan, the spirit of solidarity, charity and selflessness should guide us in our humanitarian efforts, enable us to see our own shortcomings in this field and give us the strength that we need to overcome them promptly for the greater good of humanity.
The World Humanitarian Summit is indeed a historic opportunity, and one that we cannot risk missing. It is high time to start to act together, now!
*President, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA)
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