Kristalina Georgieva eyes more agile EU crisis response

Kristalina Georgieva has set a goal for the final two years of her current term as the EU’s humanitarian aid chief: for the European Commission to be more prepared and efficient when responding to crises.

“Anticipate crisis, act early, target the most vulnerable people,” the Bulgarian economist and politician told Devex President and Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar last week. “That is what I look for to the remainder of my mandate.”

Georgieva has been credited for increasing the visibility of the European Union in international crisis response since she became its commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid & crisis response in 2010. That same year, she won the European of the Year and EU Commissioner of the Year awards for overseeing Brussels’ response to the megadisasters in Haiti and Pakistan.

Taking a break from the World Bank spring meetings last week in Washington, Georgieva, herself a former senior executive at the bank, stopped by the Devex studio for a chat. Click on the video above to watch the entire conversation. Here are a few excerpts:

How the EU and other aid agencies are providing aid inside Syria:

“We did it by building a coalition of everybody, including Russia and China, through the so-called Syria Humanitarian Forum. And time and again, the delivery is being negotiated, first with the government in Damascus, then with all the commanders that need to be approached so fighting lines can be crossed.”

What the focus of EU humanitarian aid will be in the long run:

“On a set of countries that are most vulnerable to natural disasters and more so with climate change and have very weak governance, failed or failing states. And if you overlay countries that suffer from recurrent shocks by nature and recurrent conflicts, you find two-thirds to be the same countries.”

Her impression of the World Bank’s new leadership:

“What I sense is that there is a stronger focus on getting the World Bank staff to come together and overcome some of the institutional issues they have been struggling with.”

Her message to humanitarian relief workers:

“First I would say, thank you; thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your courage, for your dedication. And then: We are going to be there. I would personally do all I can to raise the resources you need to do your job because it is morally the right thing to do, but also because it is in the common interest of all the human race. We need solidarity to carry us forward in this more fragile world.”

Watch the full video of Georgieva’s conversation with Kumar, during which she discusses her working relationship with European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, the next big crisis and her mission at the World Bank spring meetings.

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