European Commission - SPaN (2019) Operational Note 5: Integrated Financing

This Operational Note is part of the Supplementary Volume of 10 Operational Notes to the Reference Document No 26 on Social Protection across the Humanitarian-Development Nexus. A Game Changer in Supporting People through Crises. It was produced as part of the ‘Guidance Package on Social Protection across the Humanitarian- Development Nexus’ (SPaN). It is the outcome of an initiative jointly led by the European Commission’s Directorate- General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR) with the support of DEVCO Unit 04 and the MKS programme. Numerous Commission staff members working in various Delegations of the European Union (EU) and ECHO field offices provided comments on early drafts. Further comments were received from EU Member States, United Nations agencies (such as WFP and the World Bank) and reputable Think Tanks (such as OPM) and research institutions (e.g. Witwatersrand University). As this is an emergent field of knowledge, the guidance and recommendations of the Operational Notes reflect the independent views of the authors. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission. 

About this Operational Note:

Improving the financing architecture for integrating social protection with humanitarian programming supports broad-based developmental outcomes, tackles poverty and vulnerability and contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as World Humanitarian Summit commitments. In 2017 the European Union formally recognised that ‘countries in situations of fragility or affected by conflict require special attention and sustained international engagement in order to achieve sustainable development,’ committing to targeting development cooperation accordingly in order to achieve maximal impact.’ (European Parliament and European Commission, 2017). This reinforced commitments since 2011 to ‘help countries in situations of fragility to establish functioning and accountable institutions that deliver basic services and support poverty reduction’ to ensure ‘a smooth transition from humanitarian to long-term development measures.’ (European Commission, 2011).

In 2016 European development partners with global counterparts agreed a ‘Grand Bargain’ aiming to improve the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of the humanitarian system. The agreement sought to expand aid commitments to close a USD 15 billion financing gap constraining the sector, specifically committing to increasing the proportion of aid allocated directly to local and national agencies to 25 per cent by 2020 and strengthening engagement between humanitarian and development stakeholders. The protracted nature of humanitarian crises over the past decade compounded by inadequate developmental interventions have vastly increased the volume, cost and length of the required donor assistance.

Inter-agency humanitarian appeals have increased nearly 400 per cent over the past ten years and extend for seven years on average, intensifying the urgency of integrating humanitarian and development efforts (UN-OCHA, 2019). In the face of this challenge, diverse stakeholders at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) committed to a ‘New Way of Working that involves cooperating more closely over multiple years to collectively reduce need, risk and vulnerability. The agreement focuses on concrete and measurable ‘collective outcomes’ that result from humanitarian, development and other medium-term (three-to-five year) efforts that progressively achieve SDG targets. This reflects a vital commonality with the Grand Bargain, which firstly commits to ‘use existing resources and capabilities better to shrink humanitarian needs over the long term with the view of contributing to the outcomes of the Sustainable Development Goals’.

This common theme motivates the financing approach unifying this guidance note. Neither national governments (particularly fragile ones) nor development partners can sustainably finance the vastly expanding humanitarian burden associated with protracted crises exacerbated by neglect of core development priorities. Only comprehensive approaches that not only integrate social protection with humanitarian efforts but also build broadly inter-sectoral development systems can effectively strengthen resilience and reduce fragility sufficiently to manage the financing burden.

This note aims to inform European Commission practitioners (specifically staff working in EU Delegations and ECHO field offices, as well as ECHO, DEVCO and NEAR operational desks) with guidance on integrated financing across the humanitarian-development nexus in order to address short-term needs in the event of crises and to assure sustainable long-term social protection coverage for all. It summarises existing knowledge (current concepts, policies, instruments and promising practices) and synthesises the initial principles for a framework for financing integrated approaches in specific contexts. It provides references and links to more detailed guidance and evidence, serving as a gateway to existing specialised material, international standards and commitments, experiences to date, lessons learnt, available evidence, promising and innovative practices, emerging guidance and tools, and other materials. 


Note to reader

For updates on SPaN, readers are invited to join two specific communities of practice created to offer a direct link between learning and performance:

• The global, open online community on ‘Social protection in crisis contexts’ on, 

• The unrestricted group, mainly for EU staff members and on ‘Social Protection across the humanitariandevelopment nexus’ on capacity4dev.

These spaces are exclusively designed to collectively and progressively build the knowledge base around the nexus between social protection and humanitarian assistance. Through these groups, readers can share ideas and news, ask questions, share experience through testimonials, upload and access documents, take part in online events, expand your network and much more.

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