Risk Management in Practice

Risk awareness is something that is embedded in the culture of humanitarian work but risk management is not. Therefore, it is critical for NGOs to understand how to identify and manage risk. This learning stream provides a platform for the NGO community to share their current practice, discuss, and learn from one another in order to better understand how to manage risks when working in the humanitarian sector and apply it in their day-to-day work.

Topic one

Risky Business: Reframing the Fundamentals of Risk Management for Humanitarians...

An insight on why improved management of risk is a good path through which donors will trust partners with greater funds, longer periods of time and reduced oversight burdens....
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Introduction

Management of risk in humanitarian operations have become an increasingly central focus in  humanitarian discussions. Improved management of risk is one of the few paths through which donors are likely to trust partners with greater funds, over longer periods of time, with reduced oversight burdens – characteristics which cut across many of the workstreams in the Grand Bargain framework. Central to such improvement are issues like risk transfer and risk sharing, among others.

On 21 November 2019, ICVA and PHAP organised the first webinar in this series aimed at exploring the current state of risk management in the humanitarian sector. The webinar introduced the concept of risk management and provided an overview of the particular challenges to apply this in humanitarian work. As part of framing how these challenges can be overcome, practitioners shared their experiences of how risk management is carried out in local and international NGOs, as well as UN agencies.

Participants in the webinar learned about the need to balance management of the risks inherent to the work with the desire to reach people in need in the most difficult contexts. They also learned about the importance of developing an organizational culture that understands risk management as a discipline that cuts across all levels of an organisation.

Risky Business: Reframing the Fundamentals of Risk Management for Humanitarians

This webinar was organised by ICVA and PHAP and it aimed at exploring the current state of risk management in the humanitarian sector. It introduced the concept of risk management and provided an overview of the particular challenges to apply this in humanitarian work.

The following are the speakers.

Patroba Otieno
Patroba Otieno
Risk and Financial Specialist, World Vision Somalia
RempelJeremy-125
Jeremy Rempel
Head of Humanitarian Financing, ICVA

The following are the co-hosts.

AngharadLaing300(1)
Angharad Laing
Executive Director, PHAP​
RempelJeremy-125
Jeremy Rempel
Head of Humanitarian Financing, ICVA
Topic One Resources

ICVA Paper
24 March 2020
ICVA Briefing Paper: Risk and Humanitarian Culture
Subject/ Financing / Cross-cutting issues / Learning / Risk /
2021-08-24_15-26-36
Description

This briefing paper examines the current risk landscape in humanitarian aid.

Topic Two

Security Risk Management and Duty of Care during COVID-19...

This new Learning Stream on Risk Management in Practice, aimed at exploring the current state of risk management in the humanitarian sector....
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Introduction

Humanitarian work is in most cases carried out in insecure environments and situations, making it critical for organisations to be able to identify and manage security risks affecting their operations. ICVA-PHAP webinar held in Novemebr 2019 “Risky Business: Reframing the fundamentals of risk management for humanitarians”, highlights the basics on risk management.

Although Security Risk Management (SRM) in the humanitarian sector has increasingly gained the attention of policy makers and practitioners, the current COVID-19 crisis highlights challenges in how to apply risk management, including in terms of duty of care. Delivering humanitarian aid under COVID-19 restrictions has also underlined the critical role of local actors and the importance to discuss risk transfer and risk sharing between international, national, and local humanitarian actors.

On 3 June 2020, ICVA and PHAP organised  the second webinar in this series aimed at exploring the current state of risk management in the humanitarian sector. In this webinar, they looked at the key findings from a new briefing paper from ICVA and researchers from the Graduate Institute on security risk management in humanitarian organisations. They framed the findings around the challenges that the current COVID-19 crisis presents to the humanitarian sector. Practitioners and experts shared about the current SRM challenges and solutions in their organisations, including risk transfer, risk sharing, and challenges related to duty of care.

Security Risk Management and Duty of Care during COVID-19

This webinar looked at the key findings from a new briefing paper from ICVA and researchers from the Graduate Institute on security risk management in humanitarian organisations and framed them around the challenges that the current COVID-19 crisis presents to the humanitarian sector.

Podcast - Security Risk Management and duty of care during COVID-19

The following are the speakers.

Lisa
Lisa Reilly
Executive Director, Global Interagency Security Forum (GISF)
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Azmat Khan
Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Rural Development (FRD) Pakistan
Stephan Maurer
Stephan Maurer
Geneva Representative, Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
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Tom Metcalf
Senior Security Officer, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

The following are the co-hosts.

AngharadLaing300(1)
Angharad Laing
Executive Director, PHAP​
RempelJeremy-125
Jeremy Rempel
Head of Humanitarian Financing, ICVA
Topic Three

Balancing Risk Appetite and Risk Tolerance in Humanitarian Operations...

A look at the twin concepts of risk tolerance and risk appetite....
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Introduction

Risk appetite is the willingness or desire to take on risk. While this can (and should) vary between organisations, risk appetite in the humanitarian community is generally high due to the inherently high-risk contexts in which humanitarian operations take place. If risk appetite is the willingness to take on risk, risk tolerance is the ability to do so. Tolerance may vary depending on the individual risk areas faced by humanitarian organisations in their operations.

Defining and achieving an appropriate balance between risk appetite and tolerance are critical to ensure that an organisation is operating within its ability to manage risk. In the humanitarian sector, this challenge is evident in the prevalence of “zero tolerance” approaches to risk that are often present in partnership arrangements between donors and NGOs. Pressure on NGO partners can be high to accept levels of risk in funding agreements – risk levels that may be higher than the organisation’s ability to manage them well.

Ultimately, it is in the interest of all stakeholders to ensure that risk is shared appropriately between actors in the humanitarian system. However, effective risk sharing agreements can only be built when there’s a shared and solid understanding among partners and donors on concepts such as risk appetite and tolerance.

On 8 September 2020, ICVA and PHAP organised the third webinar of this series focusing on the twin concepts of risk tolerance and risk appetite. An introductory briefing on these concepts were followed by a discussion with a panel of experts on the practical challenges in identifying risk appetite and tolerance for NGOs.

Balancing Risk Appetite and Risk Tolerance in Humanitarian Operations

Understanding and appropriately applying the concepts of risk tolerance and risk appetite is crucial for humanitarian organizations to ensure that they are operating within their ability to manage risk. Humanitarian action is taking place in inherently high-risk environments and humanitarian organizations are often under pressure to take on most of that risk under the current structure of funding agreements.

This webinar focused on the twin concepts of risk tolerance and risk appetite.

Podcast - Balancing Risk Appetite and Risk Tolerance in Humanitarian Operations

The following are the speakers.

Oscar Keeble
Oscar Keeble
Senior Enterprise Risk Management Officer, UNHCR
Robert Nelson
Robert Nelson
Director Enterprise Risk Management and Compliance, World Vision International

The following are the co-hosts.

AngharadLaing300(1)
Angharad Laing
Executive Director, PHAP​
RempelJeremy-125
Jeremy Rempel
Head of Humanitarian Financing, ICVA
Topic Four

The Impact of Bank De-risking on Humanitarian Action...

To have a common understanding of how bank de-risking is impacting the ability of NGOs to work in humanitarian contexts and how to approach the issue from a risk management…...
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Overview

On 22 October 2020, ICVA and PHAP conducted a webinar focusing on the bank de-risking and its impact on humanitarian action. A panel of experts discussed the practical challenges faced by humanitarian NGOs and how to approach this issue from a risk management perspective.

Why this topic?

Over the last few years the issue of “bank de-risking” has increasingly impacted the ability of humanitarian NGOs to safely and effectively transfer funds to programmes where people are most in need. While bank de-risking can affect the operations of any type of organisation, humanitarian organisations are particularly affected due to the nature of their work and the contexts in which they operate.

Often related to compliance with counter-terrorism measures, bank de-risking measures by financial institutions manifest themselves to humanitarian organisations in the form of refused transactions, closed accounts, or other restrictions. While bank de-risking issues for humanitarian organisations have to a large degree concerned money transfers to operations in fragile countries, there are more and more examples of humanitarian organisations facing difficulties transferring funds even at the headquarters level. Humanitarian organisations have to resort to transferring money in risky ways in order to preserve programme continuity, thus bank de-risking practices can increase the risks of fraud, security, compliance and lack of transparency.

An opaque banking system which has limited accountability to humanitarian organisations and their principles leave little to be done for individual organisations in term of appealing or objecting to what sometimes seem like arbitrary decisions. Bank de-risking is lacking research and advocacy since most organisations avoid discussing how it affects them. This is why humanitarian organisations need to step up both the management of this risk and common advocacy towards both donors and financial regulators.

The Impact of Bank De-risking on Humanitarian Action

This webinar focuses on bank de-risking and its impact on humanitarian action.

Podcast - The Impact of Bank de-risking on Humanitarian Action

The following are the speakers.

Sangeeta Goswami
Sangeeta Goswami
Advocacy and Communications Officer, Human Security Collective (HSC)
Khaleel Desai
Khaleel Desai
Head of Governance, Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW)
Philippe Besson
Philippe Besson
Head of the Multilateral Division of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on behalf of the Good Humanitarian Donorship Co-Chairs

The following are the co-hosts.

AngharadLaing300(1)
Angharad Laing
Executive Director, PHAP​
Alon_2_
Alon Plato
Policy Officer, ICVA
Topic Five

Culture matters: Risks and Opportunities related to Leaderships, Staff well-being and Living our values...

A discussion on challenges faced by humanitarians in their work environments and how to improve the levels of care for humanitarian staff and build supportive organizational culture....
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Introduction

On 3 December 2020, ICVA, the CHS Alliance, and PHAP organised the webinar “Organisational Culture Matters: Leadership, staff well-being and living our values. Practitioners shared their own experiences leading culture change within their organisations where top management plays a critical role in managing risks and ensuring that staff and those they assist in their day-to-day work are cared for.

 

Why this topic?

Humanitarian organizations have faced situations reminding us that how we carry out our work is as important as what we do – including how agencies approach the mental and physical well-being of staff members to avoid long-term exhaustion, burnout, injury, or illness. Apart from the direct impact to individual staff members when the duty of care is compromised, organizations also face potential risks of an operational, reputational, safety and security, fiduciary, or legal and ethical nature.

“Organizational Culture Matters": Risks and Opportunities related to Leaderships, Staff well-being and Living our values

This webinar focuses on CEO’s role in driving culture change to enable a positive workplace culture, safeguard staff well-being, and live our humanitarian values. It also discussed practical challenges faced by staff and management as well as insights into solutions to improve the ability of senior executives to promote the necessary change. The webinar was organized by ICVA, the CHS Alliance, and PHAP.

Podcast - “Organizational Culture Matters": Risks and Opportunities related to Leaderships, Staff Well-being and Living our values

The following are the speakers.

Melissa Pitotti
Melissa Pitotti
Manager, CHS Alliance Initiative to Cultivate Caring, Compassionate Aid Organisations
Mohammad Al-Shushan
Mohammad Al-Shushan
Senior Recycling Officer, OXFAM
Mohammad Al-Shushan
Mohammad Al-Shushan
Senior Recycling Officer, OXFAM
Mohammad Al-Shushan
Mohammad Al-Shushan
Senior Recycling Officer, OXFAM

The following are the co-hosts.

RempelJeremy-125
Jeremy Rempel
Head of Humanitarian Financing, ICVA
AngharadLaing300(1)
Angharad Laing
Executive Director, PHAP​
Topic Six

Risk Management & Funding Partnerships...

This topic examines the role of risk management in good funding partnerships as NGOs engage with external funders....
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Introduction

On 10 June 2021, ICVA and PHAP organised a webinar that examined the role of risk management in good funding partnerships as NGOs engage with external funders. Risk management practices are playing an increasingly important role in partner selection and engagement when NGOs receive funding from UN agencies or government donors. A panel of experts representing both NGO and funder perspectives will make presentations followed by a live discussion with participants.

Why this topic?

For funders of humanitarian programming of NGOs, risk management is playing an increasing role in both the decision to offer funding and the terms and conditions of partnership once a grant is secured. Funding from UN agencies for NGO partners now includes an assessment of risk management practices in partner selection. Most also use a risk rating system with partners to determine funding limits and levels of required oversight.

 

Donor governments currently have a wider range of practice, some with extensive risk management systems in place. For NGO partners, there can be major consequences if donor government funding is accepted without a proper risk assessment being carried out. Accounting and compliance requirements for NGOs can be difficult to meet without appropriate training, and there are often serious legal consequences if the terms of funding agreements are not met.

The topics covered so far in the risk management series have primarily focused on internal decision making and the role of risk management. However, it is important to extend this thinking to external funding relationships. NGOs should be confident that they are basing the decision to accept funding taking into consideration key questions such as:

  • Can we meet expectations of the funder?
  • What is the likelihood that we can fulfill compliance requirements?
  • Which risk controls are missing, or should be strengthened, to help meet expectations and compliance requirements?
Risk Management and Funding Partnerships

This webinar looks at the role of risk management in good funding partnerships as NGOs engage with external funders. Risk management practices are playing an increasingly important role in partner selection and engagement when NGOs receive funding from UN agencies or government donors. The webinar was organized by ICVA and PHAP.

Podcast - Risk Management and Funding Partnerships

The following are the speakers.

Robert Hurt
Robert Hurt
Deputy Director, Division of Strategic Planning and Results Head, Implementation Management and Assurance Service, UNHCR
Tobias Nyondo
Tobias Nyondo
Director, Global Grants Compliance, World Vision International
Muhammad Amad
Muhammad Amad
Executive Director, IDEA Pakistan and Chairperson, National Humanitarian Network (NHN-Pakistan)

The following are the co-facilitators.

AngharadLaing300(1)
Angharad Laing
Executive Director, PHAP​
RempelJeremy-125
Jeremy Rempel
Head of Humanitarian Financing, ICVA