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Life after the WHS and the Agenda for Cash

By Sara Almer, CaLP Coordinator, and Paula Gil Baizan, CaLP Advocacy Coordinator

 

 

The crux in implementing commitments made in large multi-stakeholder process lies in the how, and that is also where some of the biggest opportunities lie. Sara Almer and Paula Gil Baizan explain how CaLP’s “Agenda for Cash” can facilitate tracking the bold commitments needed for a substantial humanitarian reform driven by cash transfer programming coming out of the WHS.

And so it was over: Following 2 years of planning and consultations, 50 world leaders and 5,000 humanitarian, development, political and business stakeholders gathered on 23 - 24 of May around the “Agenda for Humanity” at the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul. The WHS was posed as a breakthrough moment for the humanitarian community to substantially improve humanitarian response. But unlike the development and climate summits, the WHS was not an intergovernmental process intended to culminate in a formal and negotiated set of commitments. The expectations of achieving substantial humanitarian reform in a multilateral process, grounded on equality between Governments and humanitarian actors, driven by a call to ‘stand up for humanity’, were slim. Arguably, the only two reform proposals that could have potentially achieved the level of change expected ‘through the back door’ were localisation of aid and cash transfer programming (CTP) as a preferred option for response.

Given the nature of the WHS process, CaLP invested in an initiative that would allow for big ideas around cash to be formulated without the barriers that come with political consensus. Through the power of its network and contributions of more than 40 humanitarian and development actors, CaLP created an Agenda for Cash that outlines, from the bottom up, the elements of a true cash reform. The discussions generated through the creation of the Agenda for Cash influenced, through different channels, the initial negotiations of the Grand Bargain. Unfortunately the final text of the Grand Bargain in relation to cash is less visionary than expected. . However, the Agenda for Cash with is ambitious calls for action is a clear testament with regards to the bold changes that need to happen to bring about a true cash reform coming out of the WHS.

As so often happens, the crux in implementing commitments made in large multi-stakeholder process lies in the how, and that is also where some of the biggest opportunities lie.

As the commitments platform goes live in the coming weeks, the usability of CaLP’s Agenda for Cash as a tool to follow up on commitments will become more evident. The Agenda for Cash can be used to map out the commitments against the needs to identify gaps and funding priorities for donors. Also because it was created by cash implementers, not policy experts, all the commitments are actionable and potentially measurable. Proof of its feasibility as a tool going forward is that some of the calls to action in the Agenda for Cash are already being addressed, such as the creation of rules of engagement for CTP with the private sector.

CaLP will take an active role to monitor the implementation of commitments after the WHS, aiming to be complementary to other processes and form coalitions with other like-minded organisations and donors to be more effective. Our guiding principle will be the development of best practice. As the most representative body working towards the same goal in CTP, including over 40 members and more than 5,000 individuals in the wider humanitarian sector, CaLP members alone are likely involved in more than 90% of cask transfer programming globally.  This provides CaLP with a platform to identify synergies and drive the change that is needed to achieve the cash reform. It also allows for CaLP to be the forum where difficult conversations can be had. Being a network and maintaining the independence to advocate for best practice are not in contradiction – on the contrary.

One of the biggest missed opportunities at the WHS was that the people with the solutions weren’t sitting at the same tables as the people with the power to implement them. CaLP’s Agenda for Cash provides an opportunity to bring those two realms together so that the transformative potential of CTP is not overtaken by an overly technocratic efficiency discourse far removed from the very people it is supposed to benefit.

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