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Impact financing to address crises

09/19 World Economic Forum

Humanitarian Investing Initiative provides model of financing that combines humanitarian impact with financial return

  • Scale, duration and complexity of crises and fragility are growing, with 2 billion affected
  • Humanitarian Investing Initiative provides an inclusive, sustainable model of financing that combines humanitarian impact with financial return
  • Read the Humanitarian Investing – Mobilizing Capital to Overcome Fragility paper here
  • Follow the Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2019 at http://wef.ch/sdi19


New York, USA, 20 September 2019 – The World Economic Forum, in partnership with the co-chairs of the Humanitarian Investing Initiative, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Bank Group, announces today the release of a new white paper entitled, Humanitarian Investing – Mobilizing Capital to Overcome Fragility. This initiative is supported by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The paper outlines the role and initial landscape of humanitarian investing, which provides financing to address crises and fragility while seeking a return on that investment. By harnessing the growing pool of investment capital looking for a double bottom line, humanitarian investing also focuses on situations of conflict and fragility that are causing increasing flows of migrants and refugees.

There is a clear need to rethink humanitarian assistance. About 2 billion people live in countries that are affected by fragility, conflict and violence and, according to OECD predictions, by 2030, more than 80% of the world’s poorest people will live in such conditions. Climate change could bring internal displacement figures to 140 million by 2050, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

While the number of internationally led responses to crises doubled between 2005 and 2017, the current environment faces increasing pressures and there is a lack of investment opportunities for investors who are looking to drive impact.

At the same time, there has been increased focus among investors seeking more purpose-oriented investment options and an emerging opportunity to bring together a new mix of partners to design long-term solutions.

Humanitarian investing acts as a market to match impact-driven investment capital to opportunities that enhance resilience, mitigate crises or promote stability and recovery. The paper explores how this inclusive, sustainable financing model complements traditional humanitarian assistance, leverages development financing instruments and broadens the potential to use investment opportunities to tackle long-term challenges.

"We are challenging humanitarian and development communities, as well as investors and business leaders, to rethink their role in providing support and financial assistance to those most affected by fragility and crises,” said Borge Brende, President, World Economic Forum. “Humanitarian investing can unlock new capital and identify investable opportunities to support vulnerable communities.”

Humanitarian investing applies capital to investable opportunities that:

  • Directly impact and empower people exposed to fragility, conflict and violence and the ecosystems around them
  • Address the needs of the fragility-crisis cycle, from resilience to response to recovery
  • Are structured to take advantage of differences in mandates, return objectives, risk tolerances and investment horizons
  • Bring together public and private partners, expertise and capabilities
  • Create collaboration guided by humanitarian principles of neutrality, independence and impartiality
  • Help to transform the efficiency of the humanitarian system
  • Measure and report on human impacts and financial performance

Humanitarian investing helps those most affected by fragile situations and crises by responding to their needs, ensuring their dignity and agency, addressing inefficiencies in aid and aid delivery systems, overcoming restrictions on the nature of aid given, and advocating for high-need communities.

“We must build on the current momentum toward addressing fragility, protracted crises and forced displacement and develop new financial tools for people,” said Peter Maurer, President, International Committee of the Red Cross. “I see a real opportunity to bring development, humanitarians, investors and business communities together to build inclusive, sustainable markets and harness capital to deliver impact, and help those in greatest need.”

In the months ahead, the initiative plans to develop a collaboration platform, to continue working with key stakeholders to promote organizational readiness, and to form dedicated industry and regional tracks that will engage stakeholders to co-develop investable opportunities as proofs of concept that will enable future deal pipelines.

The Humanitarian Investing Initiative brings together key humanitarian and development actors and representatives from the investor and corporate communities. The members of the initiative are the International Committee of the Red Cross, World Economic Forum; World Bank; World Food Programme; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Capricorn Investment Group; IFC; Gulf International Bank; Novo Nordisk Foundation; Impact Advisory and Finance; Credit Suisse; US Agency for International Development; United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, European Commission; the Conduit; and IKEA Foundation.

The Sustainable Development Impact Summit takes place 23-24 September in New York. This year’s meeting will convene more than 800 regional and global leaders from government, business, civil society and academia. The meeting will explore four themes: transforming markets; accelerating climate action; financing sustainable development; and mobilizing action for inclusive societies.

The Co-Chairs of the Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2019 are Jesper Brodin, CEO and President, Ingka Group (IKEA Retail, Ingka Centres, Ingka Investments); Sebastián Piñera Echenique, President of Chile; Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands; and Melati Wijsen, Co-founder, Bye Bye Plastic Bags.

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