The Nexus, or Triple Nexus, is about linking humanitarian aid, development aid and peacebuilding: ‘Linking Thinking’. Humanitarian crises are lasting longer and have become more volatile and multifaceted, often resulting in protracted crises. At the same time, the geographical location of development aid is shifting more and more to fragile states, as these are where the poorest people live. Because of these developments, the traditional division between humanitarian and development aid is fading. Closer collaboration between the sectors leads to better outcomes for the people affected by crises.


Discussions on how to strengthen the link between development work, humanitarian action and peacebuilding are not new. During the 1980s and 1990s, a body of work in the social sciences linked the existence of poverty with vulnerability to disasters, linking humanitarian and development. Somewhat later, another body of work also linked man-made conflict and violence to disasters. In 1996, these different threads were being taken together as the first round of linking development, humanitarian and peace thinking, as reflected in the Linking Relief to Resilience and Development (LRRD) strategy of the European Commission. After 9/11, the context for linking thinking changed, as there was a much stronger focus on political objectives, resulting in a second round of linking thinking. This resulted in the Dutch 3D approach in Afghanistan, linking Defence, Development and Diplomacy.

However, linking humanitarian and development aid is difficult in practice, because of the nature of and the boundaries between different sectors within the aid industry. Humanitarian and development aid start from very different perspectives on the problem and different ways of working, which sometimes result in contradictory aims. Moreover, there are separate funding streams.

Linking Thinking 3.0

The World Humanitarian Summit (2016) has brought new incentives into the debate under the frame ‘The New Way of Working’. This third round of linking thinking aims to work around the structural challenges, seeking to find new ways to connect humanitarian and development aid. It is more outcome driven and problem driven than aid instrument driven, and works towards collective outcomes that reduce need, risk and vulnerability, over multiple years, based on the comparative advantage of a diverse range of actors.

Learning agenda

KUNO aims to get to the roots of the Nexus discussions, apply lessons learned, and identify relevant next steps, opportunities, incentives and risks. Members of KUNO and other practitioners, academics and policymakers will jointly explore ways to bring the discussion on the Nexus to a new phase. KUNO critically reflects upon ingrained processes, and contributes to the implementation of new working methods and structures that enhance connections between humanitarian action and development work. For this, KUNO will use daily reality as a starting point, discussing intervention strategies in a very specific region with humanitarian actors, development workers and peace builders.

Further reading

Theme articles