Mercy Corps Urges Next UK Government to Take a Stand to Stop Global Crises Before They Start

June 07, 2024

7th June 2024

LONDON – Mercy Corps welcomes the opportunity to work with the next UK government and urges the incoming cabinet to set the UK on a strong course to tackle the existential crises of our times: conflict, climate change, and burgeoning humanitarian need. 

We stand at a critical crossroads. Against the backdrop of numerous violent conflicts, increasing climate emergencies, and an estimated 300 million people projected to need humanitarian assistance and protection in 2024, Mercy Corps believes the next UK government can have a significant impact through addressing the root causes of these crises. 

As a global organisation dedicated to helping people survive crises and transform their communities, we know that investment in conflict prevention yields results. Every dollar invested in peacebuilding carries a potential $16 reduction in the cost of armed conflict. Historically, the UK has exhibited leadership in funding conflict prevention and peacebuilding but this has declined in recent years. Alarmingly, the UK's expenditure on conflict prevention and peacebuilding has dwindled to only 2% of the aid budget. Similarly, the 10 most fragile states received less than 1% of total climate adaptation funding in 2021.

As we look to reduce the drivers of crises, we cannot ignore the many millions of people already coping with their devastating impacts.  Currently, Mercy Corps is responding to humanitarian crises from Sudan to Gaza, Afghanistan to Ukraine.  With 300 million people - a dismal record breaking number - now in humanitarian need, we urge the next UK government to make it an urgent priority to maintain and build the UK’s efforts to respond to these crises.  This will mean leveraging partnerships and expertise with the humanitarian sector and with affected communities themselves to address the complex drivers of displacement and global insecurity.

Harpinder Collacott, Mercy Corps Executive Director for Europe says: 

"It’s naive to think that the impact of conflicts and extreme weather events that result in crop failures and increased drought abroad will not be felt on UK shores. Indeed, they already are. Take the ongoing global economic impacts of the war in Ukraine as an example, or the substantial flows of displaced people fleeing unstable, unsafe, and insecure regions seeking to start anew.

Too often the communities grappling with the impacts of conflict and fragility are also at the forefront of the climate crisis.  This despite the fact they bear the least responsibility for it. Yet the more fragile a country is, the less it receives from bilateral donors and multilateral climate funds. If the UK is serious about the threats posed by our changing climate, it must show ambition and leadership at this critical time, and step up to pay its fair share of climate finance.  Leadership and a dramatic step-change in our commitment to real action and funding are imperative. Without such measures, conflict and climate change will persist in driving global instability, leading to rising hunger, malnutrition, water shortages, loss of incomes, violence, and displacement over the next decade."