World Leaders Announce Over US$826 Million in Pledges to Education Cannot Wait at High-Level Financing Conference

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ECW Executive Director Yasmine Sher

Germany and United Kingdom top list of 17 donors as UN’s global fund for education in emergencies expands commitments to reach 20 million children and adolescents over the next four years.


World leaders announced over US$826 million to Education Cannot Wait (ECW) and the global challenge to support the education of 222 million girls and boys living in crises. These ground-breaking announcements were made at the ECW High-Level Financing Conference on 16-17 February in Geneva, Switzerland – a vital step in delivering on the global promise of providing education for all by 2030 as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals. 

In all, 17 donors announced pledges to Education Cannot Wait, including five contributions from new donors – a historic milestone for education in emergencies and protracted crises and Education Cannot Wait. Just over one month into the multilateral Fund’s new 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, these landmark commitments already amount to more than half of the US$1.5 billion required to deliver on the Fund’s four-year Strategic Plan and reach 20 million children and adolescents.  

With the war in Ukraine, global economic uncertainty and record-high forced displacement and humanitarian crises derailing development gains across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, the new pledges signal an important global commitment to place funding for education in emergencies and protracted crises at the top of the international agenda.

Worldwide, 222 million children impacted by conflict, climate change, forced displacement and other protracted crises urgently need quality education. Together with its partners, ECW is leading the way to reach these girls and boys with the safety, hope and opportunity that only a holistic education can provide.  

“There is no democracy without education. We must be able to count on well-educated future generations. The peace, freedom and prosperity of all nations depend on it,” said Federal Councilor of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis.

Switzerland is co-convening the High-Level Financing Conference with ECW and the Governments of Colombia, Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan. Through an innovative partnership with the private sector, the Zürcher Kantonalbank – subject to additional anchor investors – committed to manage a facility that can mobilize continuous and predictable financing to ECW, the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

Germany remains ECW’s largest donor. “Too many children, especially girls, have no access to quality education to provide them with the tools for a better future, a way out of the cycle of poverty and despair. We cannot afford to lose this generation. Today’s pledges will help to give millions of the most vulnerable young people hope. Germany already announced last year that we will support the Strategic Plan to assist these children with 210 million euros for the next four years. Today, we were joined by many other donors. Together, we have shouldered our shared responsibility. But to be clear: our joint efforts cannot and will not stop here,” said Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany.

The United Kingdom provided the largest new commitment for the day, announcing £80 million in new funding to ECW. With this significant contribution, the United Kingdom continues to be ECW’s second-largest donor. “I’ve just returned from Niger where I saw how education is transforming the lives of young people who have been displaced by conflict and food shortages. Educating children and young people affected by crises is one of the biggest challenges we face – from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, to the recent devastating earthquake in Türkiye and Syria and not forgetting a generation of girls being cruelly banned from attending school in Afghanistan. We are renewing our commitment to education in emergencies because we refuse to give up on the 222 million children and adolescents affected by the horrors of war, disaster and displacement. Education can provide a lifeline through to a better future,” said Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister Andrew Mitchell.

Canada announced CAD$87.5 million in new funding during the high-level pledging session. “Canada is committed to working through global partnerships, such as Education Cannot Wait, to leverage collective strengths and increase the effectiveness of programming for children living in crisis and emergency contexts. If we do not act urgently and in partnership, we risk leaving behind children living in crisis context, and the world misses out on all that potential. We will continue to work with our partners to help to ensure that quality education is available for all children,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada.

A number of new partners joined ECW’s growing list of donors at the High-Level Financing Conference, with first-time contributions from the Global Business Coalition, Italy, Qatar, Spain and Zürcher Kantonalbank.

The donations from both traditional and non-traditional donors – and broad support from governments, UN agencies, the private sector, civil society organizations and other strategic partners – are activating a global movement to transform the delivery of education for crisis-impacted children and catalyze further investments to deliver holistic education support worldwide.

“As a global community, we must unite in our efforts to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, especially our promise to ensure every girl and every boy is able to go to school and realize their full potential. This is our investment in peace where there is chaos, our investment in economic security where there is uncertainty, and our investment in the hope of children in crises for generations to come,” said The Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of ECW’s High-Level Steering Group. 

Education Cannot Wait Executive Director Yasmine Sherif concluded the high-level pledging session thanking donors for their contributions and calling on world leaders to step up funding for Education Cannot Wait.

“Today we make history in our global efforts to ensure children impacted by conflict, climate change and other crises are able to access quality learning opportunities,” said Sherif. “We must step up our global response to these interconnected crises in places like Afghanistan, Syria and beyond to leave no child behind. We will continue to mobilize new and innovative financing wherever we see an opportunity. Even when we reach our $1.5 billion target, we will not stop there. With today’s generous contributions, we will be able to reach 10 million crisis-affected children with quality education. This is our investment in humanity. This is our promise for universal human rights, equality and opportunity for those left furthest behind across the globe.”

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