IMG_0461Istanbul, 24 May 2016 – A new Alliance aimed at delivering a cohesive and strategic approach to humanitarian crises in urban settings was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.

The Global Alliance for Urban Crises emerged in recognition of the need to adapt global crisis response to an increasingly urban world and brings together a coalition of partners from across different sectors and settings, such as local authorities, humanitarian and development actors and professional associations – to provide support and assistance that is more appropriate, effective and sustainable.

Commenting on the Alliance, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos, said: “Displacement, conflict and natural disasters are increasingly urban phenomena and if humanitarian action is to be fit for purpose it must adapt to be more effective in towns and cities.”

“With 60 percent of refugees living in urban areas, humanitarian actors have begun to realize that the traditional service delivery model focused on camps is not appropriate in towns and cities,” said David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “Humanitarian organizations must work in collaboration with municipal authorities and ensure that local actors have a much stronger role in crisis response.”

Changing humanitarian landscape

The humanitarian landscape is changing. With more than half of the world’s population already residing in cities, and growing, urbanization is defining our global reality. Rapid and often unplanned urbanization continues unabated, including in fragile settings, and is exacerbating the impacts of a range of natural and man-made disasters.

Armed conflict and the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas cause death and injury amongst civilians; earthquakes inflict unique levels of devastation in cities, as do severe storms and floods. But urban areas can also offer sanctuary: the majority of internally displaced people and refugees have sought refuge in cities and towns around the world.

The Alliance will provide knowledge, build capacities and develop data-informed and evidence-based approaches in order to more effectively prevent, prepare for, and respond to humanitarian crises in urban settings, ultimately contributing to longer term, recovery, development and resilience building efforts.

Partners in the Alliance commit to achieving results in four key areas:

  • Tailoring humanitarian response to the urban context by developing shared assessment and profiling tools, promoting joint analysis, and adapting coordination mechanisms;
  • Developing or working with existing global, regional and national rosters to facilitate the deployment of urban leaders, managers and technical experts;
  • Building the evidence base on the specific characteristics of protracted displacement in urban areas, and contributing to the design of appropriate and cost-effective responses, with particular regard to protection of vulnerable people, shelter, basic services and infrastructure, and;
  • Ensuring that initiatives focused on building urban resilience incorporate components on resilient response and recovery from crises, and that they leverage greatest impact in cities most at risk of humanitarian emergencies.

In the context of our increasingly urban world, the Global Alliance for Urban Crises promotes a vision of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and towns, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and aims to leave no city behind.

About the Alliance

The Alliance is an initiative that arose out of consultations for the World Humanitarian Summit, during which a number of committed organizations led an urban expert group and developed a series of Urban Recommendations which are reflected in the Synthesis Report for the Summit. The Alliance is the vehicle through which these recommendations will be put into action. It is guided by a series of principles as laid out in the Urban Crises Charter. 

The Alliance is a multi-stakeholder initiative made up of a broad membership that also includes actors not traditionally considered humanitarian responders: development actors, urban professionals such as planners, architects and engineers, and local authority networks.  To join the Alliance, members commit to the principles set out in the Urban Crises Charter by becoming a signatory and use them as a basis for both policy level and operational engagement.

Watch the Special Session video here: