World Humanitarian Summit
If there was one area of near total consensus, it was that the present 'humanitarian system' is unable to cope with the global crises and scale of suffering around the world. Established long-ago and now pressed with unprecedented levels of needs, the system simply isn't fit for purpose anymore. And so aspirations for the WHS were high.
As a global collective grounded in humanity as a common value and fully aware that millions of people in humanitarian crises and conflicts worldwide are in need of solutions, now is the time to put differences aside and begin to address the suffering of millions of people affected by humanitarian crises -- particularly young girls.
The Syrian conflict, now in its sixth year, has contributed to the highest level of human suffering the world has seen since World War II. In Za'atari, I met just a few of the 37 million children of primary and lower-secondary age who are out of school in crisis-affected countries. The impact of those numbers is far-reaching and leaves children in a cycle of crisis.
Despite the fact that children themselves consistently prioritize education above all else, when asked about their greatest needs during times of crisis, less than two per cent of humanitarian funding currently goes towards education. There is still a very narrow perception that when a crisis hits, education is simply a nice to have, rather than a need to have. Food, water, shelter and sanitation always seem to take precedent. And although all of those things are essential, I reject the notion that education is not equally as important.
Children are the most vulnerable in every situation. When a country is torn apart by civil war, shattered by economic collapse or rocked by a major earthquake, children always hurt the most. They also have the most to lose, with their educations incomplete or barely even begun.
The global humanitarian system is failing at the same time as it has also never been better equipped to respond to emergencies and crises. There are countless aid organizations and hundreds of thousands of experienced and dedicated humanitarian aid workers helping the most vulnerable around the globe.
If we are to achieve a world that has put an end to extreme poverty and preventable maternal and child death, a world where children have quality education and a chance at opportunity, a world that is environmentally and economically sustainable, we will need a new and more comprehensive approach to development and humanitarian response.
When Canada's Development Minister Bibeau joins with world leaders in Istanbul later in May for the World Humanitarian Summit, she will have a lot of very critical issues to consider. One of the leaders' High-Level Round Tables, entitled "Managing Risks and Crises Differently," will focus on disasters, climate change and community resilience.
Social upheaval caused by conflict pushes women to discover strengths and capacities within themselves, acquire new degrees of self-consciousness and skills, gain decision-making power within the household and achieve visibility in their communities.
The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) will be held in Istanbul in one week's time. Convened by the UN Secretary General, this Summit has been years in the making, and will bring governments, aid organizations, civil society and business together to embrace a new Agenda for Humanity.