Published September 2019
Innovative finance for peacebuilding: it is time to invest
By Catherine Howell and Henk-Jan Brinkman

Catherine Howell is the former Innovative Finance Advisor for the Peacebuilding Support Office in the United Nations Department of Political and Peace-building Affairs. Previously, she worked for over ten years in the investment banking sector across finance, risk and strategy. She also worked in private sector development in the health and agricultural sectors based in Zambia and Kenya, with her former role as the Director of Head of Enterprise and Supply Chain, supporting SME development and access to finance across Barclays African markets. She holds a Bachelor’s in Banking Finance and Management, is a qualified management accountant and a part Master’s in Microfinance and Financial Inclusion.

Henk-Jan Brinkman is Chief of the Peacebuilding Strategy and Partnerships Branch of the Peace-building Support Office in the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. Previously, he worked in the World Food Programme, the office of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. He has published on such topics as peace and justice in the post-2015 development agenda, socio-economic factors behind violent conflicts, the impact of high food prices, structural adjustment in Africa and human stature. He holds a Master’s in economics from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and a PhD in economics from the New School for Social Research in New York City.

The Secretary-General’s report on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace from January 2018 makes several recommendations on financing of United Nations peacebuilding activities.¹ Among them is a call to explore innovative finance options. With slow progress in areas of voluntary and assessed contributions, the lens is often turned towards innovative finance to bring solutions. This presents a window of opportunity for the peacebuilding community to build on the motivation of actors willing to bring investment and resources. However, we need to act with caution. Innovative finance is unlikely to be a panacea that brings the ‘quantum leap’ for the Peacebuilding Fund that the Secretary-General called for in his report or to raise the needed resources for financing peacebuilding more broadly; donor contributions will remain at the heart of financing, certainly in the near term.