Ban Ki-moon - UN.jpg
Photograph: EPA/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

With 125 million people around the world in need of humanitarian aid, the international community needs to reconfigure humanitarian financing by focusing on development and using money more efficiently, a UN panel said in a report presented Sunday.

The nine-member high-level panel was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to look for systemic solutions to close the ever-widening humanitarian funding gap, which currently stands at 15 billion dollars.

The report notes that the international community now spends 25 billion dollars a year on humanitarian aid, which is a 12-fold increase from 2000.

However, due to the growing number of conflicts and natural disasters, the need for aid keeps growing.

Kristalina Georgieva, vice president for budget and human resources at the European Commission and a co-chair of the panel, said that while the needs are high, today's world economy, which produces 78 trillion dollars of gross domestic product (GDP) annually, ought to be able to mobilize the funding.

"In this rich world of ours, nobody should die or have their dignity destroyed just because of lack of money," Georgieva told reporters.

"This is one problem that, if we are to muster the political will, we can solve."

She pointed out that helping people in need is not only morally right, but it is also in countries' self interest as instability in one region can have global impacts.

The panel made three sets of recommendations - shrink the needs by focusing on resilience building and long-term planning; deepen the resource base by creating a global fundraising model instead of relying on a small number of donors; and improve the efficiency and transparency of aid organizations.

The panel has also discussed the possibility of a "solidarity levy" where an extra tax going directly toward humanitarian funding would be put on certain services - especially luxury goods. An example of this is a micro-levy put on airline tickets by 10 countries that raised 1.6 billion dollars between 2006 and 2011.

However, the panel was unable to come to a consensus on the specificities of what such a levy should look like, Georgieva said, noting that any good or service that involves mass volume transactions could be considered.

The panel also noted that because a majority of conflicts are in Muslim countries, Islamic social finance, including zakat, the mandatory alms-giving, could play an important role. Georgieva said such financing could bring in 2 billion to 3 billion dollars to address the funding gap.

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