Report prompts investment into $1.5m humanitarian project

Improved disclosures could help humanitarian projects move from grant-based to private sector funding


Christine Dawson

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is taking forward a project to improve data provision in humanitarian and resilience investing (HRI).

The project follows recommendations in a report by the World Economic Forum and Gulf International Bank (GIB) Asset Management published in January called Unlocking Humanitarian and Resilience Investing through Better Data.

According to the report, the private sector has a key role to play in investing in the sustainable recovery and resilience of vulnerable communities. The authors argue the private sector should work with humanitarian and development agencies, as well as data providers, to generate the data investors need in this area.

Through the HRI project USAID aims to design humanitarian disclosures that would be appropriate for a variety of investment products; pilot the disclosures on a range of development projects; and use the findings to develop a potentially mainstream set of disclosures.

Venetia Bell, GIB chief sustainability officer and head of strategy, said having sent out a request for proposals USAID was now close to partnering with a body able to deliver the project. It is understood the project USAID had in mind is worth around $1.5m.

Bell said there needs to be more focus on the human impact of climate change: “This [progress with the initiative] speaks to the need to be holistic in our thinking – that it is not just about climate change, but climate change and the impact on people that can often flip in to fragility, conflict and violence.”

UN figures showed that in 2021 the number of people in need of humanitarian aid jumped by 50% to an estimated 235m and the funding gap for humanitarian aid more than doubled to $24bn in 2020.

Bell explained the initiative has been focused on how humanitarian work can move from grant-based projects to private sector funding. The report in January noted data gaps were a crucial barrier to private sector investment. Without sufficient data the identification, appraisal and due diligence of potentially impactful, bankable HRI transactions is impaired.

The report also found because existing metrics are not standardised it is difficult to make comparisons across organisations and sectors. Data on social impacts and resilience-building, the authors said, is also hard to collect with much of the current data focusing on short-term response rather than on crisis prevention and recovery.

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