Investing in Resilience in 2016

As we close out 2015 and look to next year and new opportunities for the Global Resilience Partnership, I wanted to introduce myself. I joined the Global Resilience Partnership as the first Executive Director last month, but I am not new to the challenges and opportunities of increasing the resilience of poor and marginalized communities.

In my most recent role as the Director of the FAO Eastern Africa Resilience Hub, I witnessed the devastating effects of drought, floods, earthquakes and the outbreaks of disease. I saw first-hand how a crisis hits the most vulnerable the hardest. And how one disaster can roll back development gains.

I have also witnessed the positive impact of investing in resilience. When we foster resilient livelihoods, men, women and families are better able to cope with chronic stresses and acute disasters. A resilience mindset is proactive, focused on root causes, systematic changes and long-term impacts. Resilience is critical to achieving all of our ambitious global goals from eradicating hunger to ending extreme poverty.

That is why I’m excited about the promise and the potential of the Global Resilience Partnership. We are just at the beginning of shifting the way the global community thinks about development and humanitarian assistance. We are just beginning to see what innovation and smart partnerships between government, civil society and the private sector can accomplish. We can create a world where a disaster can be managed as a disruption that can be rebounded from, rather than a disaster that traps people deeper into the grip of poverty.

Partnership will be critical. This was a central theme of the discussion during the recent “Resilience Day” at COP21 in Paris. During this day, experts came together to share ideas and strategies that will help communities build resilience to inter-related challenges such as climate change, food security, and population growth. Throughout the COP21 negotiations, I was pleased to see that resilience proved to be an important overarching theme

The accord signed this past weekend is an important first step for those communities around the world. 195 countries – almost every single one – signed the Paris Agreement. It demonstrates that the world is paying attention. It affirmed, as Unilever CEO Paul Polman said, that the cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of action.

But more can be done. We need to capitalize on this momentum. We will only make progress when we start to ‘join the dots’ and activate different stakeholders to talk to each, work together and make each other stronger. That is what the Global Resilience Partnership is all about. I’m excited to continue this conversation with you.