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The SBP Mechanism

The Standby Partnership Programme mechanism (SBP mechanism) provides surge capacity support to UN Agencies responding to humanitarian emergencies through the secondment of gratis/in-kind “experts on mission” by external partner organisations. The SBP mechanism functions through a series of bilateral agreements between participating UN Agencies, UNOCHA and a number of surge providers (Standby Partners) that are composed of a diverse group of NGOs, donors, private sectors, foundations and government agencies. 


The SBP mechanism began during the first Iraq war in 1991, when the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and  Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) responded to a request for surge personnel from UNHCR. 


Over the last 29 years since, the SBP mechanism has expanded considerably by gaining new participating UN Agencies, UNOCHA and Standby Partners that covers over 400 expert profiles. Currently, there are 16 participating UN Agencies, along with 56 Standby Partners that share a Memorandum of Understanding. In 2022, partners supported over 1,000 requests for technical expertise and provided 706 deployees in 79 countries.

The SBP Network

The Standby Partnership Network (SBP Network) began in 2013 as an initiative of organisations from the SBP mechanism in order to provide “high quality personnel consistently available for support to humanitarian action through organisational engagement and collective preparedness.”  Currently, the SBP Network engages with its members on a membership basis to which any organization acting as a Standby Partner to a participating UN Agency and/or UNOCHA is automatically included. 

All UN agencies and SBP partners that participate in the mechanism are automatically members of our Network. Most of these organisations regularly contribute to the SBP Network initiatives through in-kind and financial support, and/or through their participation in the Working Groups, the Steering Committee, and engagement with the Secretariat members. 

“High quality personnel consistently available for support to humanitarian action through organisational engagement and collective preparedness.”

Standby Partnership Strategic Framework 2020 - 2022

From 2013 – 2019, this initiative focused on professional training through the establishment of the Standby Partnership Training Secretariat. The strength of collaboration and partnership of the SBP Network saw the development and delivery of the SBP Network Common Induction Training Package.

From 2018, various consultations were held to expand the portfolios and the role of the SBP Network initiative to assist in targeted operational focus through identification of key priority areas that support the operational elements of the SBP Mechanism.

In late 2019, discussions led to the development of the Standby Partnership Strategic Framework 2020 - 2022 (the Strategy). The Strategy for the first time attempts to improve the work of the SBP mechanism by focusing and building expertise in three priority areas which were agreed by the SBP Network members.

1. Ensuring a suitable quantity of available personnel to respond to identified needs.

2. Strengthening the quality of deployees’ skills to compensate for gaps in UN agencies’ response through training and other means.

3. Maintaining and enhancing coordination across the Network to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of the combined efforts of all SBP members.

“The purpose of the network is to foster the implementation of best practices and new solutions to improve preparedness and response capacity and the care of the deployment personnel through collectively engaging the knowledge, skills, experience and unified voice of the network.”

Standby Partnership Strategic Framework 2020 - 2022

The Strategy outlined the requirement to create a robust governance and coordination structure to strengthen coherence and coordination of the SBP Network. Part of this evaluation determined the need of the SBP Steering Committee (SC) to provide leadership, the requirement of Working Groups that engage regularly to address common operational challenges through collaborative efforts, and the Secretariat to support and consult regularly with SBP Network members and drive the key workflow necessary for the SBP Network.


SBP Network Steering Committee


The SBP Steering Committee (SC) has been formed with the purpose and the mandate to determine the direction and development of the SBP Network. Members of the Steering Committee meet once a month. Its role is to streamline the SBP Network strategies and decisions whislt providing continuous oversight of the implementation of activities in line with the Strategy on behalf of all members.

Objectives of the Steering Committee are to provide:

1. Strategic direction

2. Operational support and supervision of the Secretariat staff

3. Financial oversight

4. Advocacy and resource mobilisation

The composition of the SC is configured to ensure cross-representation of participating UN Agencies and Standby Partners. It is comprised of three Standby Partners, two UN Agencies, the Chair of the Learning Working Group (LWG), the Chair of the Duty of Care Working Group (DoCWG), and the Monitoring, Evaluation, Assessment and Learning Working Group (MEALWG).

The Steering Committee is led by co-Chairs of one UN Agency and one Standby Partner.

SBP Network Steering Committee Members:


SC Co-Chair
SC Co-Chair
Mamta is Head of Operations for Humanitarian Response and Resilience Section at NORCAP/Norwegian Refugee Council based in Oslo, Norway. She has 15 years of global, broad based and cross-sectoral experience on developing and influencing policies/strategies for both the UN and INGOs at the headquarters and the country level.
SC Member (Treasurer)
SC Member
Sebastian Dworack heads the International Capacity Development Team at the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF) in Berlin. In this capacity he has initiated and conceptualized the expansion of ZIF’s engagement in the field of humanitarian assistance, particularly within the Standby Partnership Network since 2016. As member of the current SBP Steering Committee and the previous Training Secretariat Steering Committee, he has been actively engaged in the development and promotion of the SBP Network Strategic Framework 2020-22. Sebastian is a member of ZIF’s expert roster of German civilian personnel for multi-lateral peace and crisis operations and has served in several international peace operations on the Balkans between 2002 and 2010. In addition, he covers ZIF’s mediation support portfolio and in this capacity works closely with the German Federal Foreign Office as well as national and international partners in the area of international peace mediation and mediation support. Due to this background, Sebastian is particularly interested in issues like humanitarian negotiation and the triple nexus between humanitarian, development and peace operations. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Bonn/Germany and is a certified mediator and organizational development consultant.
SC Member
Adam Marlatt has been serving as Help.NGO’s Operations Director since 2010 leading ground operations in L3 emergencies across on 6 continents. He is a White House Author and in 2013 he received the Champions of Change award from President Obama for the use of innovation and technology in disaster response. In addition to NGO work, he has served in Senior Technical Advisor roles for the United Nations Development Programme and the World Food Programme, providing subject matter expertise in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) and large-scale logistics operations. Prior to engagement in the Humanitarian Sector Adam served as an Infantry Platoon Sergeant in the United States Marines Corps over 8 years.
SC Member
Natalia holds 10 years of cross-cultural experience in the humanitarian sector in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, where she has been working for UNHCR. She has experience working in large emergencies and conflict zones, and in both internal displacement and refugee contexts. Her responsibilities included resource mobilization, communication and reporting, community-based protection, policy advocacy and resettlement, as well as operations. In her last role, Natalia was based in Goma, overseeing UNHCR’s fundraising and communications efforts in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since 2019 Natalia has been working as Emergency Partnerships and Deployments Officer for UNHCR’s Emergency Services in Headquarters, in Geneva. She covers engagement with UNHCR’s emergency Standby Partners and provides support the deployment of UNHCR staff and partners. Before joining UNHCR, she worked for NGOs on human rights and human security issues.
A former lawyer and diplomat, Kirsten Sayers is CEO of RedR Australia and a strong advocate for collaboration and governance within the RedR International federation. Kirsten has previously held senior diplomatic appointments in Paris, Bangkok, Taipei, Singapore and ASEAN. As Australia’s first Investment Commissioner to ASEAN she was appointed Australia’s Chief Negotiator and Delegation Leader to the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) Women Leaders’ Network. Kirsten was the first Australian (woman) Trade Commissioner to have a baby on diplomatic posting and she continues to advance gender equality in RedR’s training and deployments – before, during and after, crises and conflict. With deep experience in international, environmental and social governance, Kirsten is a current member of the Sphere global governing board. She was Vice President of AustCham Singapore, a board member of the Australia China Business Council, and a thought leader for Australian Business in Asia. An Asia Literary Ambassador, Kirsten is specialised in Chinese and Indonesian law, and speaks English, Chinese, French, Swedish, Norwegian and Vietnamese to various degrees.
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