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A milestone, not an endpoint: World Humanitarian Summit's European consultation

European consultation in Budapest, February 2015. From the left, Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management; Valerie Amos, UN Emergency Response Coordinator; Ádám Zoltán Kovács, Hungarian Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; William Swing Director General, International Organization for Migration. Photo credit: EU

On 3-4 February 2015, a delegation from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) co-chaired the European consultation of the World Humanitarian Summit in Budapest, Hungary. As the largest regional consultation so far, nearly 250 participants shared ideas to help set the agenda for future action in times when humanitarians face more challenges than ever before.

Gosia Pearson, Policy Officer, ECHO

Open, innovative and forward-thinking is how I would describe the European consultation of the World Humanitarian Summit, which I attended just two weeks ago.

When EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides and UN Emergency Response Coordinator Valerie Amos opened the event in Budapest, they encouraged participants to debate and disagree, and to come up with bold fresh ideas. Over two-day-long intensive and rich discussions, many diverse views and concrete recommendations were brought to the table.

I thought it would be challenging to combine the different positions and competing priorities expressed by the participants, while remaining focused and pragmatic on the actual commitments. Yet, many of us shared the same view as to which key issues needed to be taken up at the Summit.

The summary report reflects the common priorities identified during the discussions.

Strong emphasis is placed on maintaining focus on affected populations. Addressing the complexities of humanitarian response in conflict and the primary responsibility of governments to protect their populations is another important aspect. Participants also reaffirmed their commitment to upholding humanitarian principles and the international humanitarian law, and called for better alignment of development and humanitarian aid to build resilience and lasting solutions.

This regional consultation was a big milestone, and not an endpoint. The event in Budapest showed that the success of humanitarian action requires commitment and involvement of all stakeholders. It is now up to all of us in the international community to champion the recommendations, turn them into specific actions, and share lessons and experiences so that the World Humanitarian Summit does reshape humanitarian aid for the years to come.

As Deputy High Commissioner of the UN Refugee Agency Alexander Aleinkoff said at the concluding session: "Our goal is not to perfect delivery of assistance, it is to end the need for assistance".