Operationalizing the triple nexus approach in conflict and fragile settings - ESCWA
1-2 December 2021
Expert Group Meeting

Operationalizing the triple nexus approach in conflict and fragile settings

  • Rotana Hotel, Amman, Jordan
Contact information

Within the framework of its activities on governance and institutional development in crisis contexts and conflict-affected countries, ESCWA's Cluster 6 on Governance and Conflict Prevention is organizing an expert group meeting on the concept of the humanitarian-development-peace triple nexus approach. The meeting aims to explore concrete ways of operationalizing this approach in conflict and fragile settings in the Arab region, including in the least developed countries (LDCs). It focuses on reinforcing national institutions and governance systems, supporting them to move beyond humanitarian aid dependency towards sustainable development and peacebuilding. It also aims to explore new ways of working within challenging contexts, particularly protracted conflicts and recurring crisis situations. The meeting will focus on enhancing institutional capacities and synergies among national actors in Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Mauritania, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria

This meeting has three main objectives:

  • Assessing the opportunities and challenges of putting the triple nexus approach into practice in targeted conflict-affected countries and LDCs;
  • Developing guiding principles for governments and relevant stakeholders on operationalizing the triple nexus approach;
  • Building the institutional capacities of governments to implement the triple nexus approach in conflict and post-conflict/recovery phases.

Outcome document

This Expert Group Meeting assessed the opportunities and challenges of implementing the Triple Nexus approach in targeted countries. It also discussed potential pathways for governments on the operationalization of this approach. Moreover, the discussion focused mainly on building institutional capacities of governments for the implementation of this approach in fragile settings, conflict and post-conflict phases.

The key points of agreement were that there needs to be a better understanding of the definition and conceptual framework of the Triple Nexus; current financial mechanisms are limited and therefore flexible funding mechanisms should be considered; and that implementation of the various programs need to be executed in close cooperation with individuals, communities, and local and national institutions, not through by-passing them.

It is paramount to understand the role of public policies in facilitating or impeding the nexus. A particular area to examine is whether governments have policies in place to facilitate transitions between emergency response and longer term service delivery (in both directions), such as policies related to emergency procurement, budget flexibility, retention or (re)deployment of civil servants/service delivery systems in/to affected areas, scalable social safety nets.

Necessary to bridge the cultural divide separating the three dimensions: humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding interventions to assist national institutions to move gradually from aid dependency to development and peace.

Effectiveness in planning transition strategies, as most assistance plans and programs lack clear benchmarks for transitioning away from relief to development and from international to national ownership.

Build country-level platforms that bring together all key national and international stakeholders under a common decision-making umbrella within the triple nexus approach – i.e., strengthen the nexus coordination capacities of national institutions in relation both to themselves as well as international actors.

Integrate the triple nexus approach into the funding arrangements of international actors and the budgets and fiscal policies developed by national / local governments, such that they adequately resource localized, triple-nexus responses and durable solutions to crises.

Provide support to national institutions to implement multi-sectoral approaches that address challenges across the triple nexus at the programmatic/service delivery level.

ESCWA presented the compounded challenges faced by crises and conflict-affected governments that still lack institutional capacity to provide the necessary public services to their constituencies through existing public systems and institutions. Presentation of the work done by ESCWA on governance and institutional development in crisis contexts and conflict-affected countries, with a focus on the need to operationalize the Triple Nexus approach in highly volatile settings in the Arab region. The importance of reinforcing national institutions and governance systems to move towards sustainable development and peacebuilding as well as exploring new ways of working within challenging contexts.

The panelists defined the Triple Nexus and discussed the many challenges faced during its implementation, including the fact that there still exists a conceptual confusion and an unclarity to what it means in practice. Case studies, such as Ethiopia, Chad were presented to highlight the importance of government intervention, specifically focusing on local governments. The need for better communication methods and joint context analysis and implementation programs was stressed to understand the perception of people and their means and coping mechanisms; emphasizing that it should be a needs-based approach.

The panelists emphasized the challenges facing the implementation of the Triple Nexus, especially without the reinforcement of national systems. In addition, they focused on the importance of politics by assessing political incentives on the local and international level. Funds from donors are inadequate since all efforts concentrated on conflict management rather than conflict resolution. It was recommended to share information that creates synergies and understand the different operational systems in place. An example, inter alia, of the Iraqi initiatives and programs that target women leadership and empowerment was mentioned. With the lack of a clear political path that is linked to peace, acting from a nexus approach is fundamental.

Panelists discussed the peacebuilding pillar of the Triple Nexus and the way in which it should be thought of and implemented. They discussed how, in order to effectively implement the peacebuilding pillar, the root causes of instability and conflict need to be addressed in a bottom-up as well as top-down approach that involves local and national institutions. A focal point is the perception of individuals and communities that the situation will improve. It was emphasized that implementation actors should focus on the security of the individual, rather than focusing on the security of the state.

This session focused on the need to recover public finances given the deterioration of public infrastructure in conflict-affected countries. The rising inflation, unemployment, poverty, security challenges, and scarcity of resources has increased the challenges and need for humanitarian aid. As a result, this affected the commitment of governance programs. Hence, a flexible funding mechanism should be considered. The panelists emphasized the need to strengthen institutions to manage and address humanitarian issues and respond to crises in a more resilient way. The Jordan Compact and the London Initiative were also presented to show the outcomes of programs that target inclusive growth. Donor member states and agencies shed light on their respective experiences is this field.

The discussion in this session focused on how to move beyond the vicious cycle and siloed processes of implementation actors, and the failure of different actors in synergizing their efforts to execute their respective programs and mandates in a well-organized, more coordinated and effective way. The application of the Triple Nexus for the health sector was also explored by emphasizing that, rather than being considered as a standalone process, it must be embedded in the wider nexus process by making use of existing frameworks, such as the HRP and UNSDCF.

ESCWA thanked the participants for their participation and for providing their experiences and expertise in the implementation of the Triple Nexus. They also assessed the outcomes of different projects, programs, and initiatives that were implemented in Jordan, Yemen, and Iraq. This depicted the way forward in operationalizing the Triple Nexus which is at the heart of humanitarian aid, development, and peacebuilding. The need to build and strengthen the capacity of local and national actors was reiterated. This involves providing technical and logistical support to institutions and governments in building institutional capacities of governments for the implementation of the triple nexus approach in conflict and post-conflict / recovery phases. It was recommended to draw tailored roadmaps for effective implementation of the triple nexus and to develop country-specific manuals and guidelines on operationalizing the triple nexus approach in selected Arab countries, which are affected by institutional fragility, protracted crises, and conflicts.

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