Speech by Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier at the opening of the World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator

11.07.2016 - Speech

Minister Müller,
Minister Brunner
Ms Cousin,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted that we are opening the new World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator here in Munich today.

Fresh ideas, creativity and innovation – we need all of these for our humanitarian assistance work now more than ever. Never have the challenges been so immense as they are today.

There are more than 65 million refugees around the world, a sad record level that scarcely even hints at the personal suffering experienced by people who have been driven from their homes – by war, terror and violence.

Not only have five million people fled to Syria’s neighbouring countries, but there are almost seven million internally displaced persons in the country itself – many of whom have had to flee on multiple occasions in recent years. There are no two ways about it: the humanitarian situation is simply catastrophic. Countless homes have been destroyed, there is no medical care in many places, children are unable to go to school, and families are dependent on food aid, without which they face starvation.

This year, the Federal Government has set aside 570 million euros for the World Food Programme in Syria and neighbouring countries – that is a record. But the bad news is that humanitarian emergencies such as those in Iraq, Yemen and Libya, and also the impact of the climate phenomenon El Niño, are causing the humanitarian need to grow still further.

I firmly believe that, given these great challenges, it is not simply the amount of humanitarian assistance we provide that counts, but rather how foresightedly, rapidly, sustainably and with which partners we can best coordinate this assistance.

We committed ourselves to precisely this comprehensive, innovative approach at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. What is more, Germany has assumed the chair of the Platform on Disaster Displacement, a forum that looks at natural disasters as a cause of displacement and primarily focuses on prevention and risk management.

We hope to receive fresh ideas from you for all of these issues, ladies and gentlemen, here at this new centre.

There are already numerous excellent examples of this. As we saw on our tour just now, the World Food Programme is, for instance, supplying 2000 mothers and their children with food in the city of Homs. The funds for this aid were collected from private donors in the space of just four months, with micropayments of 40 cents via the smartphone app “Share the Meal”.

I was given the opportunity to take a look at this app just now. With one click, you can choose the amount to donate, and at the same time you are told where the money goes. This is a good example of an innovative financing idea – and also of the involvement of non‑state partners.

That is what we must focus on – namely how we can best draw on new and existing partnerships and expertise. I am delighted that we now have a centre here in Munich where experts from the business and science sectors can develop solutions together with humanitarian assistance experts.

And, ladies and gentlemen, you are warmly invited to Berlin to come and talk to us at any time.

I would like to thank the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Free State of Bavaria for their excellent work. And I wish everyone here at the Innovation Accelerator bundles of creative energy!

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