I want to thank you for having accepted the invitation to attend this Red Cross Red Crescent Tsunami Response Forum.
I also want to say a special thanks to the volunteers and staff of the Hong Kong Red Cross and Red Cross Society of China for having accepted to host and provide logistical support to the organization for this forum.
I would like to finish by saying a few words on the uniqueness of this disaster. The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is entering un-chartered territory.
We have never engaged in such a large and complex operation.
A large number of territories affected across 12 countries on two continents.
• Massive death toll in only a few hours.
• Conflict areas in worst affected regions
• Some of the worst affected areas were also tourist sites which has affected thousands of families in dozens of far away countries.
The global humanitarian community has also never been faced with such a challenge not only to deliver an appropriate needs driven response which will vary country to country, but also other dynamics such as the unprecedented generosity of the public.
Never have we worked with so many players in so many countries with this amount of available resources.
I am so very proud of all the work that has already been achieved to help those affected by this disaster. Our host National Societies, their volunteers, our fund-raising efforts and our immediate international emergency response - should all be praised. We dealt with an extremely difficult situation with professionalism and compassion. This is the true strength of our Movement.
Together as a Federation of National Societies, the Secretariat and its Regional Delegations, along with our ICRC colleagues and in close collaboration with the UN, we have created together the regional framework for the delivery and coordination of aid for many years to come.
The Regional Framework being discussed at this Forum is the result of needs assessed to date. It may not be as complete as you had expected it but we cannot include what we cannot assess. The Government of Indonesia for instance will establish its plan later this month; this partly explains the difference in the level of detail between the Sri Lanka and Indonesian plans.
Over the next three days we need to look closely at how we should work together to deliver programmes which are effective and beneficiary focussed. The result of Hong Kong will be a shared understanding of what we can all achieve and a move towards further action on early recovery.
We must deliver greater transparency and accountability in reporting expenses, management of programs, reporting progress and impact to beneficiaries of our activities. That is why we also have a proposal for an accountability framework and engaging real time evaluations which allows us to correct challenges while we operate.
We must be disciplined as a Movement to continuously show transparency and accountability to keep the trust of individual donors, corporations and governments but more importantly to better do our job in providing help to the vulnerable populations.
National Societies will be accountable for the implementation of their programs. The Federation Secretariat will be accountable for operating the agreed coordination mechanisms and of course its multilateral programs. I will make sure that the Federation's co-ordination function will be impartial by having a clear distinction between our co-ordination and multilateral operational work.
We need to recognize the special challenges in engaging in long-term recovery and rehabilitation efforts, and make sure to use the lessons we have learnt from other major natural disasters.
Our host National Societies are at the center of the Regional Strategy and Operational Framework, defining the needs and guiding us to be accountable to their authorities and population, not least to the affected communities.
Some smaller National Societies have donated to the Federation appeal for the first time and have organized fundraising campaigns in their countries. This is an exciting development which I hope we can build on.
Knowing this, we must have a sense and spirit of Solidarity in coordinating the delivery. We need to come up with a "family arrangement" which will be beneficial to all of us and will enable many National Societies to better position themselves in the future in their role as auxiliary to Governments.
Last week, we had a round of consultations with the National Societies with the largest amounts of tsunami funds on hand and agreed that the principle "everybody should have the right to contribute" should apply, thus giving space to all National Societies that have collected funds for the tsunami victims.
The principle of "proportionality" needs to be applied. Last week I argued that resources from all participating National Societies, working bilaterally or multilaterally through the Federation, should be taken into account and their funds spent in proportion to each other; in other words, equal rights for all - "big" and "small" contributors.
The criteria to be applied for allocating funding should not only be the amount of funding but should also include the quality aspects of the programs concerned and issues of timing.
We need to allow ourselves to think "outside of the box" and be creative, rethinking some of our traditional methods. The principle of "flexibility" also needs to be applied - plans and budgets need to be flexible enough to allow swift reaction to changing circumstances.
Communicating to the public in a coordinated fashion is key to our success. We must make sure that our external communications is as developed as our internal programme communications. Living in a world of global media communications, we are sensitive to the fact that accountability and effectiveness issues in one country can easily become an issue in many more countries quickly. In people's minds there is often only One Red Cross Red Crescent. We are developing a Communications strategy and will seek the input of National Societies in doing so.
We are sending a serious signal to the UN and to all Governments that we want to coordinate to ensure the greatest positive impact to beneficiaries. Governments want us to coordinate effectively. We will maintain the confidence they have placed in us.
We are pleased to see that the United Nation's specially appointed coordinator for its humanitarian response has accepted our invitation to attend the Forum, along with a colleague from UNDP who will address the longer-term recovery response.
What do I see are the desired outcomes from this Forum?
My vision is of us having a strong movement/federation Regional Strategic and Operational Framework with effective delivery mechanisms at the country level. By working effectively with governments in the region and with other external partners we can make a huge contribution to risk reduction and effective disaster management in the affected countries. However we should focus on some practical matters in Hong Kong:
- Agreement on the Regional Framework
- Agreement on the basic principles of Red Cross action in our tsunami response
- Greater co-ordination: The Movement Co-ordination Platforms are well established to support this operation. Now they must be put fully to the test to deliver the co-ordination and decision making around project approval that will bring region and country operational frameworks to life
- We must balance our attention carefully with focussing and addressing the pressing needs of the tsunami affected populations next to addressing broader needs in the affected countries and in the region
- We must continue to build the capacity of National Societies - the tsunami programme and resources provides a great opportunity for us to provide through robust partnerships support that will be significantly strengthen the affected national societies and their volunteer base in a sustainable way
- A commitment to providing Staff for the operation - I ask all National Societies to make their staff available to the Federation or actively identify and encourage quality candidates from their countries to apply for the positions we have established that are required to implement our Strategy and Framework.
- An Accountability Framework
- Agreement in general on communications principles.
Thank you very much, and I look forward to the conclusions which you will bring to us from this important meeting..