Jorgen Haldorsen, Disaster Risk Management Director for Plan International, delivered the following remarks at the Annual Meeting of the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action on October 17, 2018.
Thank you for the warm introduction and for inviting me to speak before you today. I am proud to be standing here with this impressive group of humanitarian practitioners, donors, government representatives, and academics.
Ensuring that the protection of children remains front and centre to all humanitarian action is a mission that Plan International takes very seriously, and one that we are dedicated to across our own organization and around the world.
We strongly believe that coordinated, evidenced-based, humanitarian action that takes an integrated and holistic approach to the needs of children is key - key to ensuring that all children are protected from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, and that their families, communities and the systems they rely on are strengthened.
And yet, the humanitarian community is facing a daunting challenge as forced displacement on a massive scale is occurring in every region of the world, both within and across borders. Half of those forcibly displaced are children.
Crises are becoming more and more protracted with patterns and cycles of humanitarian need driven by overlapping episodes of slow and sudden onset disasters, conflict, and related economic crises and food insecurity. At the end of 2016, 11.6 million refugees were considered to be living in protracted situations, with 4.1 million of those lasting 20 years or longer.
Children living through these crises and facing extreme protection risks are counting on their governments and the humanitarian community, the people in this very room, to work together to address their needs.
We must work together to address these complex protection risks using rights-based and localized approaches. We must share our experiences and research, and evidence of good practice and lessons learned. We must coordinate with each other, not only during a response, but through the harmonization of our work - setting standards for what we do and building from what we know works.
With the growing number of crises globally, it is more important than ever before to ensure more efficient use of resources, that we complement each other’s work, and utilize targeted and tested solutions for addressing some of the most severe child protection concerns of the day- such as providing continuous care for children on the move and those who face multiple displacements.
One recent initiatives we have started up to strengthen cross boarder learning of our refugee response work in Eastern and Southern Africa is the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Refugee Programs and Durable Solutions, based in Kampala. This CoE will be a learning hub for drawing lessons and good practice, support cross boarder research to promote quality programming and to influence refugee policy.
As Plan International, we are keen to join forces with you so that we can ensure the COE is valuable, not only for our organization, but to the child protection sector as a whole. This culture of learning, changing and improving is one significant contribution that we can make to humanitarian practice right now.
As an active member of the Alliance for a number of years, we feel we have benefited greatly in terms of joint learning and good practices in the sector, which has enabled us to significantly scale up our own capacity to deliver child protection interventions in humanitarian settings. Through the Alliance’s various technical products, Plan International’s country-based child protection in emergencies teams can access assessments, research, guidelines, and tools that help them to design, set-up, implement and monitor their child protection in emergencies prevention and response actions.
We have been able to build the knowledge and skills of field practitioners on child protection in emergencies thanks to the presence of standardised training packages, up-skilling and mentoring schemes and online learning opportunities made available by the Alliance.
Through leading and working with the Alliance’s Child Labour in Emergencies Task Force, Plan International is proud to be a part of the successful completion of the Child Labour in Emergencies Toolkit and continued contextualization of its resources in the Middle East.
With the Community-Based Child Protection Task Force, we’ve been able to both bring in Plan International’s extensive experience in community-based programming models, while also learning from others in this room on what strategies have the most impact for working alongside communities and civil society to respond to immediate protection needs, and create sustainable solutions.
Today, we are pleased to report that child protection programming is one of our three global priority areas for Plan International worldwide, and that child protection in emergencies programming has become an integral part of all our emergency response work across the organization.
The Alliance provides an opportunity for us to learn from each other and apply best practices and tools for addressing complex age and gender related protection needs of children in emergencies.
For example, we’ve found across multiple humanitarian contexts that child marriage and child labour are two distinct protection concerns that are driven by both age and gender related factors, affecting primarily adolescents.
Yet, identifying the problem is not enough. We need the right tools and evidence-based approaches for tackling these very complex protection challenges- addressing both the risk factors as well as underlying root causes. And in order to effectively address these issues, we’ve learned that we cannot work in silos but have to work across sectors, integrating protection responses with education, health, food security and livelihoods, and nutrition.
Over our 81-year history, Plan International has committed to community-based approaches and a child-centred community development model, and we strive to create space for meaningful participation of young people as agents of change in their own lives and communities.
Plan International’s recently adopted Global Strategy has emphasized our commitment to gender and age sensitive, integrated prevention and response actions across development and humanitarian contexts.
As an organisation we are committed to ensuring that our development programming builds the resilience of children, their families, and communities to shocks resulting from slow and sudden onset crises. To do this we apply a full spectrum approach that addresses both life-saving protection concerns for children in humanitarian settings, while also prioritizing sustainability. And wherever we can- work to address root causes of underlying protection challenges, including for example, addressing entrenched gender norms and discrimination that contributes to violence against children.
We take to heart the imperative to ensure that we work alongside national civil society. Yet, we are still learning from local actors how the Alliance and its members from international organizations can be better partners and co-responders. How we can leverage each other’s strengths, and create sustainable models that extend beyond the initial phases of an emergency. We are excited to be with and to learn from, local actors here today.
Plan International is grateful for all we have been able to accomplish through our membership with the Alliance, and we are eager to contribute our own experience and lessons learned so that we can continue the tradition of shared practice, strong standards, and more effective child protection in emergencies interventions.
For this reason, we are very proud to become the next NGO co-lead of the Alliance, for the 2019-2021 period. We are committed to sharing our experience in developing and implementing sustainable approaches to child protection in support of all Alliance members and the humanitarian community at large. We hope to share our knowledge and experience in working across the nexus in diverse contexts, the tailoring of interventions to take account of age and gender dynamics, and working alongside and supporting community actors.
We cannot thank UNICEF and Save the Children enough for their leadership and excellent example over these last 3 years. Save’s significant contributions to the governance, strategy and coordination of the Alliance’s global workload cannot be understated. Their critical role in defining the structure of the Alliance, its place, role and responsibilities within the global humanitarian landscape has paved the way to where we are today. And the foundation that they have been instrumental in laying must now be continuously built upon.
Plan International intends to do all it can to continue to build on the Alliance’s already great achievements, and to do our part to ensure sustainable results for children affected by emergencies over the next three years.
We particularly look forward to continuing this journey alongside UNICEF and are confident that together we will make great strides in influencing the global child protection agenda and working for a world where all children are protected and able to achieve their dreams.
Each and every one of you in this room has improved the lives of children and their families around the world, and we are honoured to continue this work, and to accomplish even more, together.
 UNHCR (2017) Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2016 [Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2016/]