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Improving the international humanitarian system: the potential of the corporate sector By John Mitchell Director ALNAP.

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Presentation on theme: "Improving the international humanitarian system: the potential of the corporate sector By John Mitchell Director ALNAP."— Presentation transcript:

1 Improving the international humanitarian system: the potential of the corporate sector By John Mitchell Director ALNAP

2 Agenda Overview of the humanitarian system Corporate engagement in humanitarian aid – some recent evidence and preliminary thoughts Future potential

3 Formal International Humanitarian System: main actors The formal system is made up of  The providers: donor governments, foundations and individual givers  The implementers: Red Cross/Crescent Movement, INGOs; UN agencies and IOM; national and regional civil society  The recipients: affected populations

4 Key actors seen to be outside the formal system and informal systems which are also of importance Central but often neglected actors  Affected governments  The military  Businesses Informal systems  Global remittances  Zakat system  Front-line, local humanitarian systems

5 “International aid is a footnote in the survival strategies of poor people”  Alex De Waal

6 International Humanitarian Footprint: staffing Estimated humanitarian staff 595,200 UN agencies and IOM 49,500 Red Cross/Crescent 48,400 INGOs 112, 900 Aid worker population has increased by 6% over last 10 years 6

7 International Humanitarian Footprint: funding International humanitarian resources $18 billion Emergency aid flows $4.4 billion Emergency aid flows $6.6 billion Humanitarian aid rising faster than official development assistance (ODA)

8 RESOURCESRESOURCES INFORMATIONINFORMATION The system is made up of multiple actors, relationships, resource and information flows

9 What kind of system is it? Aid is supported by basic ‘business model’ supported by ‘default position’ of a largely international alliance of agencies Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) describe sector as ‘quasi market’ with an indirect producer-consumer relationship The ‘market’ is loaded with information and power asymmetries such as weak incentives to deliver good quality services efficiently 9

10 How should it work? A Vision from ALNAP Membership 10 “...Humanitarian assistance will be more systematic and delivery will more closely reflect humanitarian principles, norms and codes... Active partnership with affected people, local administration and civil society groups will be more evident and will reflect an explicit recognition by the international community of the importance of local skills and knowledge... Humanitarian agencies will act accountably and will ensure that learning and change processes, including evaluations, are part of a commitment to continuous improvement...”

11 How have aid agencies tried to become more accountable?  A combination of 3 broad approaches: (i)improving participation of affected communities and local ownership (downward accountability) (ii) developing codes, standards and principles (iii) focusing on performance and results 11

12 Approach 1. Improving participation and ownership by local and national stakeholders – current initiatives Humanitarian Accountability Partnership: NGO membership committed to Quality Management Standard Collaborative Development Action: the Listening Project on views of affected populations Fritz Institute: use of beneficiary surveys Promotion of participatory evaluation methodologies Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) through Red Cross Quality COMPAS – quality management approach Global Study on Participation – participatory techniques and monographs 12

13 Approach 2. Codes, standards and principles Red Cross/Crescent NGO Code of Conduct. Debates about IHL and humanitarian principles (neutrality, independence and impartiality) after Rwanda genocide, Chechnya and Afghanistan International Disaster Response Law (IDRL) development of legal frameworks SPHERE: technical standards, sectoral approach People In Aid: promotion of HR best practice HAP Standard mentioned previously is a standard focusing on participation

14 Approach 3. Performance and results Evaluations – OECD-DAC Criteria  ALNAP Evaluations  Impact assessments, innovations  Humanitarian Performance Project (HPP) Results based management Quality approaches – Compas, EFQM and ISO 9000 Emergency Capacity Building Project (ECB)  Good enough guide

15 There is no lack of change and reform initiatives to help implement different elements of these three approaches QUALITY, ACCOUNTABILITY, LEARNING, ADVOCACY Sphere, HAP ICVA, Voice ALNAP, PiA URD, Coord Sud THEMATIC DEVELOPMENT Rights & Empowerment HIV-Aids, Gender LRRD Protection Participatory Approaches STRUCTURE Clusters Internationalisation / Decentralisation JOINT ACTION AND PARTNERSHIPS Joint Ventures e.g. ECB, Good Humanitarian Donorship Capacity Building Programmes Partnership Building e.g. WEF PPPs BUSINESS PRACTICES Finance & Funds e.g. CERF Leadership e.g. HCs Communications & Media

16 What do the various approaches and multiple initiatives add up to? Performance ideals are not easy to realise across the system given the quasi-market nature of the system and the multiple relationships - focus to date has been on specific organisations, principles and mechanisms System-wide performance is shaped by and emerges from interactions between different sets of stakeholders And it is currently weak 16

17 ‘…once they have reached a certain size, agencies usually go out of business due to poor financial management and rarely if ever due to poor field performance…’  Tsunami Evaluation Coalition

18 Changes are afoot which mean these three approaches to humanitarian performance need re-thinking, or at least re-visiting Increasing vulnerability, more disasters, global-local crises (food, fuel, finance) Changing international order (China, Russia, India, Brazil; G8 to G20; etc) Changing disaster management modalities  Internationally driven (Darfur)  Hybrid (Pakistan Earthquake)  Nationally owned (Sichuan earthquake)

19 Agenda Overview of the humanitarian system Corporate engagement in humanitarian aid – some recent evidence and preliminary thoughts Closing thoughts

20 Corporate Footprint: what and who? 61 corporate initiatives identified in 2006 survey 3 forms of engagement:  Single company engagement: e.g, The IBM World Wide Crisis Response Team  Partnerships e.g, Motorola with CARE (most common form)  Meta-initiatives e.g, Disaster Resource Network (DRN) 20

21 Corporate Footprint: funds Average size of corporate initiatives surveyed was $2 million Largest is TNT-WFP ‘Moving the World’ $10 million Budget data very hard to come by Funding generated is very small compared with overall humanitarian budgets

22 Corporate Footprint: where and how? Predominate focus on natural disasters (especially post- tsunami) Tendency for capacity-based engagement, focusing on filling gaps or enhancing existing capacities  Logistics e.g. Crown agents for DFID  Procurement e.g. Global Hand  IT e.g. Microsoft  Telecommunications e.g. Ericsson  Organisational management e.g. Accenture Development Partnerships, Price Waterhouse Coopers  Corporate Responsibility Brokers e.g. Corporates for Crisis 22

23 Drivers for corporate engagement in humanitarian work (i) Focus on partnerships and reducing organisational risk Important role of CEO vision Strategic branding Reputational benefits Corporate social responsibility

24 Drivers for corporate engagement in humanitarian work (ii) Staff motivation e.g. IBM, Deutsche post, World Net, TNT Business intelligence to enhance performance Protecting assets from disasters Desire to put something back

25 What is the capacity of corporate engagement to change basics of the humanitarian system? On the basis of the presented evidence, and existing initiatives, there are few examples of profitable organisations bringing significant change to the system Corporates are currently engaged in improving how the system works, or in their own mechanisms for delivery, generally by using the norms of the system Behaviour of corporates is just one element in emergent accountability of the overall system, and at the present time, not a particularly distinctive one compared to the approaches emerging from the ‘formal’ actors themselves 25

26 Agenda Overview of humanitarian accountability Corporate engagement in humanitarian aid – some recent evidence and preliminary thoughts Closing thoughts

27 ALNAP has identified three broad forms of learning in the international system Single-loop learning is undertaken in line with existing practices, policies and norms of behaviour. The focus is on incremental improvements in practices Double-loop learning involves reflection on the appropriateness of existing practices, policies and norms within an organisation. Conscious process of re-designing products, processes and methods to generate new ways of doing things in response to changing contexts Most challenging is triple-loop learning, which represents the highest form of organisational self-examination. It involves questioning the entire rationale of an organisation, and can lead to innovative and concurrent transformations in structure, culture and practices

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29 Central question: how can corporates contribute to double- loop learning in the humanitarian system?

30 Key principles Vitally important to create new shared space and opportunities to bring corporate competencies to bear on humanitarian performance, learning and accountability Use this space to clarify goals, share perspectives, challenge existing practices, question assumptions underlying different approaches, identify and adapt different mechanisms, experiment and move forward in the spirit of mutual learning partnership

31 Some examples Community-based feeding therapy utilising best corporate knowledge and products to transform malnutrition treatment Use of mobiles in emergencies – partnerships with leading technology and mobile operators Bringing quality management principles, especially ISO, into Q&A mechanisms such as HAP and People in Aid Code Use of balanced scorecard in planned system-wide performance assessments by ALNAP

32 Should we be thinking about corporate engagement for 1) Downward accountability? 2) Codes, standards and practices? 3) Performance, learning, evaluation? Or 4) Corporate partnerships for humanitarian innovations that cut across all of these?

33 Thank you! Please keep in touch  John Mitchell  Join the ALNAP network at


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