DIHAD 2016

21st – 23rd March 2016


Summary of Presentations


On behalf of the United Nations Messenger of Peace, H.R.H. Princess Haya Bint al Hussein, wife of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, H.E. Mr. Ibrahim Bumelha, Humanitarian Advisor of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman, DIHAD Higher Committee and President, DISAB, opened the Conference. He pointed out that this year’s theme is in line with the vision and the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid for Dubai to be made into a global hub for innovation in all sectors and to spread happiness in the UAE and the world. The UAE has become a most important supporter of humanitarian response, and always aims at responding instantly to humanitarian crises and disasters wherever they take place, independently of religion or social status. It strives to alleviate the suffering of victims, refugees and the displaced, and its role in humanitarian aid projects makes it rank high on the humanitarian agenda and provision of humanitarian aid capital. (Download Speech)

H.E. Dr. Atiq Al Falahi, speaking on behalf of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President, UAE Red Crescent Authority, stated that the annual session of DIHAD has become a major event, bringing together those that work on providing quick response and are facing humanitarian challenges in the world in achieving stability and peace. This year’s focus on innovation is important seen its role in enhancing relief and development efforts and finding solutions to meet future humanitarian challenges.

UAE is the largest humanitarian donor compared to its per capita, proof of its support to humanitarian actions for those in need due to crisis, independent of other criteria. Last year saw the illegal immigration problem and impact on those fleeing conflict and seeking safety and stability. Also the issue of global warming requires humanitarian action in innovative ways, using science, knowledge and technology. He looked forward to additional partnerships to strengthen the noble principles to strive for, and mentioned that the UAE Red Crescent is a major partner in DIHAD, and hoped for a good outcome of the conference for the benefit and happiness of mankind. In particular in the Arab region, the challenges put by humanitarian tragedies exceeding all expectations need a constructive cooperation to reduce losses caused by conflict and disasters.

H.E. Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), mentioned the great generosity of the UAE in humanitarian aid and development. Humanitarian crises have become more complex and last longer than ever before. Of the current 60 million forcibly displaced, half are children. The UN Secretary-General’s report to the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) projects 1.9 billion people will be living in fragile environments by 2030, faced with weapons, drugs and violent extremism; in the last two decades 1.3 million people have been killed by disasters, and more than four billion have been affected, costing the global economy at least USD 2 trillion, while more frequent storms and droughts are foreseen.

Despite the threefold increase in humanitarian aid over the last decade, there is still not enough to meet needs. This requires an innovative response and reaching the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and better collaboration and response to protracted conflicts and crises. The SDG agenda can be a common frame of reference for both humanitarian and development work, a transformational agenda in scope and ambition to “leave no one behind”. The UN S-G report for the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) proposes three fundamental shifts in response: reinforce and not replace existing systems; better anticipate and not wait for crises to happen; and transcend the humanitarian – development divide. It is foreseen that by 2030 the annual cost of humanitarian aid may well have increased to at least USD 50 billion. Joint planning takes place in the Integrated Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) which brings together a range of partners in one common data management platform in response to the needs of refugees and host communities neighbouring Syria. Response to protracted crises needs special and pooled funding to support coherent humanitarian and development actions. UNDP engages in crowd funding linking diaspora funding with emergency development projects at home.

While development must be risk-informed, the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing points at the need to reduce risk to avoid high costs of humanitarian needs and by addressing root causes of conflict. It is important to engage women in natural disaster prevention and crisis response, and work on implementation of SC resolutions 1325 and 2242 on Women, Peace, and Security.

This year all efforts must be made to get the framework right for working more effectively across the humanitarian, development and peace-building communities.  All need to do more and quickly. (Download Presentation)


“Addressing vulnerability through an innovative, joint, humanitarian assistance and development approach.”

Ms. Heba Aly, Managing Director, IRIN – Moderator, introduced the panel members and format. She wanted in particular the discussions to focus on bridging the gap between humanitarian and development assistance. (*)

H.E. Mr. Christos Stylianides,

European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, set out how three actions involved different commissions working together, i.e. for external affairs, in particular development and humanitarian instruments. The EU Trust Fund for Africa after the Valetta Summit is to promote all humanitarian and development activities in all African countries, in particular Sahelian countries; another Trust Fund is for countries neighbouring the Syrian crisis, including education in emergencies, an electronic system for cash and vouchers. He stressed that education in emergencies is one of the most efficient tools to allow children through informal education to move back into the formal education system. He shared his experience in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, where the main thanks were for having provided education as it was the prospect for a future.

He referred to the Ebola response as an example how to reduce the gap humanitarian – development in practice as it was based on the same needs assessment. The High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing may provide some improvement through several specific committees. But it is important to think out of the box and promote close links with the private sector which follows an untraditional approach, and common ground must be found by specific global regulations to allow for their engagement in humanitarian activities beyond just philanthropy.

For ECHO working with the WHS provides a good occasion to address common problems while safeguarding rules and regulations on transparency. He stressed the need for involvement of the global public opinion and political commitment for the WHS to be a success.

Mr. Rashid Khalikov, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Partnerships in the Middle East and Central Asia, UN OCHA, acts as liaison between donors in the Gulf region and humanitarian actors. Delivering aid in the region through the donors here does not clearly separate between humanitarian and development programmes. Several sectors, such as health, or water provision, are not clearly development or humanitarian. Coordination between humanitarian and development actors is a great challenge, but to some extent humanitarian assistance has been facilitated by the generosity of Nordic donors, which is now close to reaching its limit. Therefore, private sector funding needs to be encouraged, while also development funding must be tapped for humanitarian causes. With regard to preparedness, it is not a priority of the actual humanitarian response, but rather in the phase in which local capacity is being strengthened to enable to provide the first response in particular in disasters.

He came back to the issue of education, stressing its value in supporting generations to come, and creating a sense of normality for the families.

With regard to the WHS to be a success, political commitment and bridging the gap are necessary.

Ms Sandra Mitchell, Deputy Commissioner-General, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), was asked to lay out how the development and humanitarian activities are bridged. UNRWA has largely developed since its creation some 50 years ago. It flips back and forth between emergency relief – shelter to reconstruction / repairs of schools that were used to house displaced persons. It also provides then education.

Of the 30,000 UNRWA staff only 1,000 are non-Palestinian. Five years into the Syrian conflict, the education system is largely the same. The local host country’s curriculum is followed, with some international humanitarian parts included. Of the 560,000 Pal in Syria 450,000 have remained. About 50,000 children are not in traditional schools, and are provided psycho-social support, play rooms etc. There is also online education with distance learning, and UNRWA TV from Gaza for families who cannot go to school.

A good way to bridge the gap is by providing cash or e-vouchers, rather than in-kind contributions, but is only possible in case of access to food.  In Syria about 40% of aid is provided in cash, while in other places it is still through food baskets. She pointed at the psychological and political impediments to providing cash / e-vouchers in certain situations after some 50 years of providing food. It is a challenge not to risk a compromise on the humanitarian principles or IHL when working with governments that are party to the conflict, and complying with their rules is certainly there, for which reason there is awareness creation on impartiality in humanitarian and development actors.

With regard to limited resources, Palestinian refugee hosting countries need to tap in their development sources without the assumption of leading to a solution and integration.

SESSION 1 –Innovation and Humanitarian Aid (part 1: “Innovative approaches to ensure food security in humanitarian assistance settings”)

Ms Arlene Mitchell, Executive Director, Global Child Nutrition Foundation, USA – Chair, introduced the panel theme of food security in humanitarian settings. When a child’s physical and mental growth is affected by hunger, its effect is particularly long lasting. It is immediate and lasts for generations. Therefore, food security and mitigating hunger are of crucial importance. Her organisation works in innovative ways, e.g. in transportation, storage and food lines to avoid unnecessary loss of food that is already produced. Floods and other weather conditions prevent long distance transportation at quick and affordable cost. The question is whether proven technology can be applied to preserve food; any version of all road vehicles or even drones be used; or any version of an airplane to transport food? As market and adoption issues are often neglected or undermined by alternative provision of food, she questioned whether communities of patient buyers could be created for long-term investment, or to introduce new seeds and methods for food security.

Furthermore, as nutrition is not only about calories, could the humanitarian community be a strong advocate for simple messages, changing food choices after immediate phase of crisis

As education is poorly funded, can the concept of a school in a box boosted, or computers be effectively used when school going is not an option, or can humanitarian work include a special focus on nutritional needs?

Protection of children and helping them to learn are important, so is there an updated version of a “chastity belt” to protect women and girls? In short, what innovations can protect women and help them to provide for their families? (Part 1Part2)

Ms Merete Johansson, Chief, Coordination and Response Division in Geneva, UN OCHA, proposed to consider nutrition in all its forms, not just malnutrition. Of the seven billion people in the world, one billion go hungry and two billon overeat. With the rapid population growth over the last century, the growing demand for food requires consolidated action from higher-level actors.

Food, health, and planetary sustainability are interlinked. Greenhouse gas and poor diets are the leading causes of death. There are only 15 years left to transform the food system and end the planet from being exploited beyond its capacity. Climate refugees, health effects, food safety, and food security issues are already affected. The question is how to get it right with a simple formula that respects Mother Nature through sustainable agriculture and biodiversity to rebalance and preserve the ecosystem. WFP, FAO, IFAD, UNICEF and others are to work together and with NGO implementing partners, as food security is central to the humanitarian agenda. To move the Food Agenda forward asks for global leadership to develop integrated strategies, strengthen coordination, mobilise strong advocates with leverage, and engage with the private sector.

The food agenda is the “make-it/break it agenda for humanity”. (Download Presentation)

Mr. Sean Lowrie, Director, START Network, UK, referred to the image of preventing drought and resulting in a food crisis. With USD 24 billion spent on humanitarian aid, insufficient money is available to meet the scale of need and to invest in experimenting and taking risks.

START and its member agencies focus on early warning and anticipation in case of food crises, such as the project of World Vision “Buster”, or HelpAge ALERT. START Fund is a multi-donor Pooled Fund with support from three governments, with anticipation and fast funding windows.

START Labs allow experiments with new financing mechanisms with specific models with specific risks, e.g. Parametric Drought Insurance which works before an actual crisis happens.

Support for NGOs in case of lack of access to food supplies by providing cash, thus reducing transport and procurement costs.

Need to challenge assumptions and treat people the same way as one wants to be treated. Many small-scale experiments are important. There is insufficient money in the aid sector, but innovation lies everywhere and financial instruments are needed only to catalyse an economy for innovation. (Download Presentation)

Mr. Saul Guerrero, Director of Operations, Action Against Hunger, UK, presented one vision, i.e. Hunger Singularity. Focus has been on reducing hunger and the number of children malnourished, but we must orchestrate innovations. Lessons are: 1. Take quantum leaps with big jumps and not small steps which can take long. 2. Simplify tools, e.g. upper-arm measuring tape. 3. Rethink the questions, even if at considerable cost but by promoting low cost, e.g. by reducing the rations; 4. Find the right supporters and partners, who see a vision and do not get stuck in details.

All these and other steps can be taken. Even if hunger is remaining with us, no one should die from it. By combining the right innovations for prevention and treatment, and by balancing the science of innovation with the art of orchestration, the hunger singularity can be reached. (Download Presentation)

Questions and points raised from the floor included: the challenge in public private partnerships is standardisation of the list of goods and services to be able to more effectively address needs; the question how to prioritise between initiatives depends on the interests of the investor(s) matched with own priorities and the end goal; a common platform for interaction with private sector is necessary for application of innovations; the requirement for evidence to base decisions should not outrange the benefits for the end recipients; to translate innovations from the top to the grassroots level, such as the small farming communities (who make up 40% globally), requires to focus on low tech innovations applicable at the local level, such as triple plastic that can be used without any technical knowledge; and financing decisions are mostly taken far away from the location where the needs are to be met.

SESSION 2 – Innovation and Humanitarian Aid (part 2: “Innovative approaches; humanitarian assistance in conflict zones”)

H.E. Amb. Atta El Manan Bakheet El-Haj, Deputy Secretary-General, Islamic Appeal for Relief and Development, Sudan – Chair, introduced the theme of innovation as no longer something new, but as a real must. He proposed several questions for the panel to focus on, e.g. How to deliver emergency aid in conflict situations, while respecting rules and regulations of humanitarian principles? In conflict situations will food be delivered / provided or rather produced? Are we ready to review the current humanitarian system and its suitability for the current and new challenges? He stressed the need to rethink the role of local partners who are not just carrying out the plans of international.

Dr. Gilles Carbonnier, Professor, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, used two examples of innovation in conflict situations compared to a decade ago. Paper messages have been replaced by instant communication. There is a dilemma between speed and risk taking on the one hand, and the precaution “do no harm” (risk aversion) on the other hand. Confidentiality was in the past to be a serious commitment, which now may be taken less strict.

Many innovations in the humanitarian sphere are facilitating the lives of the beneficiaries, e.g. cash-based assistance and remittances directly to beneficiaries through web-based or electronic channels; insurance against kidnap and ransom (K&R) is an innovation but can cause controversy. So innovation can also be a hazard. Drone use is now moving to the humanitarian space and can change the perception of the public and governments when used in a crisis to deliver assistance, such as delivering assistance to remote places, and can facilitate distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants as targets. In case of disasters, use of drones is very relevant, but in conflict zones it needs much more research to distinguish between opportunities and intrusions. However, the legal and security aspects of such innovative tools still need to be determined. So, risks must be weighed against opportunities and carefully analysed, and the principle of “do no harm” must be considered before certain innovations being extensively deployed. Risks of failure must be recognized before introducing such innovations in conflict zones. For the academic community, it is of value to use innovations for training and education.

Dr. Sherine El Taraboulsi, Research Fellow, Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI, UK, argued that the problem with the humanitarian system today is the failure of partnering with other actors. The humanitarian system is failing to reach the goals, and is facing a crisis of legitimacy. The humanitarian establishment of the ICRC, UN, the private sector and regional organisations is divided. Regarding innovation in conflict situations there is a need to first determine how conflict has changed over time, with micro conflicts such as terrorist attacks, more networking and cross-border actions, with more political leverage. The nation state is no longer to be considered as a point of reference. Innovation is needed to fill the information gap in highly sophisticated networking; a longer history approach must be taken; there is an operational gap in the application of IHL. Counter terrorism legislation can cause blockages in aid delivery. Innovation is possible: the localisation and complementary approach is now linear; it needs unpacking and a more serious engagement and closer linkages between humanitarian and development actors. The role of Foreign Policy in humanitarian action, such as in Syria’s cease-fire, needs rethinking.  MSF is a good example of an innovation in ways of working together. Creative initiatives to deliver humanitarian aid are welcome. Ad hoc engagement does not work, linear engagement is not useful, while military engagement in humanitarian and post-humanitarian action is also a reality.

Ms Isadora Quay, Gender in Emergencies Advisor, Care International, focused on challenges in relations at the household level. Working in Turkey at the start of the Syria conflict, she had seen the reality of gender in the crisis. In South Sudan at the time of floods, people were sleeping standing up, and gender and  generational analysis had completely fallen off the agenda. The Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) has been developed as a toolkit, a process, based on three principles – fast, imperfect, and practical. It should come up with practical recommendations, and should be progressive. The RGA includes four phases:  EPP -producing a Gender in Brief, in Phase 1 shared externally within 48 hours when crisis happens; Phase 2 – preparation and sharing of RGA within two weeks; and Phase 3 – use of data to update RGA Report by data collection at the household level to get a more precise approach. The process has been used so far in 28 places, in Africa, the Middle East, and in the Far East.

Three kinds of help are solicited: how to capture qualitative rather than quantitative data only; coordination and information sharing; and cooperation. (Download Presentation)

Comments from the floor included: The cost of humanitarian work management is much larger than the final aid provided, which can be reduced by use of cash assistance or electronic payments. Costs will not necessarily be reduced by localisation, as much more investment in staff and compliance to rules are needed.

Rather than focusing on symptoms, we should focus more on the root causes of crisis and displacement. Innovation is needed to ensure systems are in place within and between organisations. Accountability mechanisms in both directions need to be respected. Absence of will and ability to imagine a system that works is the problem. WHS was supposed to be the space where new promises were to be made, but so far it is not clear that this will happen. Media may play a role in exercising peer pressure to adhere to principles

SESSION 3 – The application of International Humanitarian Law – and International Humanitarian Rights Law – in today’s conflicts; are innovative approaches possible, and called for?

H.E. Amb Peter Schatzer, International Institute for Humanitarian Law, San Remo – Chair, introduced IHL as a concept with two streams on the conduct of operations with the use of means and “doing no harm” (The Hague) and on the protection of civilians (Geneva). Furthermore, the conventions on the prohibition of arms, and on children in armed conflicts are relevant. Violations of these conventions occur frequently, and the discussion in this forum would be on how to make these conventions and IHL respected. As many conflicts are not between states but involve non state actors, who have not ratified the conventions, there is a risk that states not having ratified will also take up force to combat non-state actors (bombing hospitals, targeting NGOs running them, drone attacks on innocent civilians as bystanders of targets, old people’s homes, trafficking of women, forced marriages). The international community’s response is often not judicial but rather political, such as sanctions.

The subject is of interest to DIHAD because of conflicts in which humanitarian actors are becoming targets, and the question how to prevent impunity, and how to protect humanitarian workers.

Mr. Vincent Bernard, Head of Unit, Law and Policy Forum, ICRC, focused on the question how the laws can be applied, and on how innovations can be promoted. How to bridge the gap between laws and their violations in armed conflicts is a main challenge. As enforcement mechanisms do not always exist, and armed conflict is not a normal environment, parties may deliberately violate IHL by not using conventional tactics. The current climate of terror and counter-terrorism violates IHL, e.g. by the use of drones. Protracted conflicts seem to lead to disrespect of IHL, which was initially established for the protection of medical staff, and a diminishing perception of its value. Humanitarian workers are often denied access by the parties in a conflict, which leads to violence towards them. Is the law still relevant or does it need clarification? IHL is flexible enough to adapt to changing realities, but rigid enough to set limits. So the question is its application and better compliance.

Prevention of crimes in times of conflict – “ignorance is no excuse” – is not sufficient as training of armed forces is necessary. Creation of respect of the law requires a set of actions, including training, repression mechanisms, and regulation of behaviour in armed conflict. Virtual Reality Tools have been developed to train on IHL in realistic situations, to limit civilian casualties by use of precision targeting weapons. (Generating respect for the law by ICRC, and Law and Policy pages on the ICRC website are relevant sources of information.) (Download Presentation)

Ms. Mona Rishmawi, Chief, Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, mentioned that science and technology are now used in administration of IHL and Human Rights law. She focused on how science and technology help in recording facts and happenings, as professional fact-finding is essential to assess how law is respected and implemented, and to reduce the gap between law and its implementation, and show the context in which it is applied. In conflicts involving the use of prohibited weapons (chemical in Syria), certain strategies that intentionally target persons or objects, or that fail to take precautions, can be assessed by such tools. The difference between facts and opinions is important to determine in the application of human rights by the use of empirical information that basically shows how international treaties are implemented.

Four tools that can help in Human Rights fact finding in situations of conflict are:

  • satellite images, using geographic information systems through mapping and information sharing mechanisms, to provide very exact images before and after incidents or of hard to access locations;
  • instant photography (e.g. selfies, and amateur videos);
  • forensic and lab expertise;
  • facilitation of testimonies, in particular in hard to access areas.

Technologies are important to establish facts and give credibility to conclusions, e.g. on what weapons were used in particular situations. (Download Presentation)

Dr. Gilles Carbonnier, Professor, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, while focusing on innovation in achieving greater compliance with IHL, pointed out that humanitarian economics can contribute to enhance understanding of the behaviour of actors in armed conflicts, moving from mainstream economics. It implies applying rational decisions to optimize profits and minimise losses, which means that Non-State Armed Groups (NSAG) base their decisions on basic economics. Massive violations of IHL are a rational decision to maximise their own benefits. Empirical research has found that NSAG change their behaviour to conform to basic IHL or not, depending on their access to resources, and NSAG tend to shift to more permanent forms of extraction and “taxation” from the local populations and developing quasi-state forms of welfare when originating from the local communities.

Even ultra-orthodox economists have recognised that behaviour of certain types of agents is not always predictable. As such, innovation in behavioural economics can be beneficial for aid interventions in fragile states as was shown in the World Bank World Development Report 2015. Rational decisions are taken on a cost-benefit basis, taken socially, and based on pre-established mental models, which may come through education and exposure to violence and war (videos etc). Although not done often, they can be used to insert tools to influence mindsets and introduce norms of IHL.

Comments and questions from the floor: Violations of IHL with targeting of hospitals are frequently documented by photos and videos, even when carried out by states signatories to relevant treaties. Can individuals and states by extension be held accountable for violations? How can “whistleblowers” be supported in following up on clear violations or crimes?

What do war economics entail for humanitarian actors? Humanitarian policy makers and workers have to be aware how their own activities fit within war economy dynamics, and how much some of it can be used to gain more leverage. Furthermore, relating mental models to culture, religion and norms requires emotional intelligence and some proximity as distance may prevent both. More study on this relationship is needed to be able to apply findings to humanitarian policy.

For ICRC as protector of IHL and at the same time needing to intervene with governments, who are violating those laws? ICRC tries to be as close as possible to affected populations and report to authorities the violations and open dialogue to improve the situation. There are limitations in using proximity in response within the established rules, but new compliance mechanisms must be developed for better follow-up steps, e.g. at political level through sanctions. The ban on landmines is working and the number of victims of landmines has considerably decreased.

There is a huge mismatch between obligations in IHL and enforcement mechanisms and what happens in reality, leading to public frustration. There is increasing emphasis on accountability, but it is not yet sufficient to prevent atrocities, not only by NSAG but also by governments’ military.


Mr. Yves Daccord, Director-General, ICRC, focused on innovation not only as new technology, but as affecting people to be served and delivering aid.

Key features which will influence the way of working in the next years are:

  • globalisation of vulnerability, where the containment strategy is no longer working;
  • lack of international convergence at country level;
  • shift in relationship humanitarian / development actors and with those we try to serve through access of information.

As a result the status quo is not an option, and collaboration will be the new buzzword. The issue is not “the system” but a set of systems that forms an eco-system requiring much better collaboration. Responding alone to needs is no longer possible as problems mostly have a multi-layer complexity. Therefore, innovation must be central to our way of thinking and acting. Innovation obliges collaboration to find solutions within likeminded but also with different actors. It also provides a safe opportunity to bridge the gap between humanitarian and development aid, and investment space, as protracted conflict is at the core of our caring. ICRC’s portfolio of different initiatives is mostly around health, as it is an area in which the Organisation wants to improve and work differently across its activities, e.g. forensics, use of data in predicting health issues in fragile environments, or collaboration with the private sector. It entails joint advocacy for better health for all, a global lab, and also in bringing new investors into health support and risk sharing. The future will lead us to work more in collaboration rather than in competition to reach better results.

Lessons learned so far regarding innovation include that it is not so much about finding the right ways, but how to implement, scale up projects, and integrate and accelerate innovation in an organisation. It will not be achieved by creating a separate innovation unit. People whom we try to serve will increasingly influence the leadership and way of organising response.

SESSION 4 – Partnerships for innovation; incentives to make a difference

H.E. Mr. Khaled Al Kamda, Director-General, Community Development Authority, Dubai, UAE – Chair, proposed to create a platform where we all aim for happiness for all who are affected by crisis. We have the means to do it if we have the will to do it. The session was interactive between the panel and audience. Giving his personal perspective from the UAE, the Chair expressed a feeling of responsibility of caring for others, not only in the region. He questioned how innovation technology could be used to reach out and improve the delivery of aid.

Dr. Robert Opp, Director, Innovation and Change Management Division, World Food Programme, Rome, did not see how the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG) of reaching zero hunger by 2030 would be reached at the current speed, despite some reduction in hunger in the past 15 years. He compared several hospitality organisations with the same market evaluation using different strategies and business models (i.e. Hilton vs Airbnb).

Innovative use of mobile technology such as the smart-phone app for food distribution, digital payment, biometrics for registration, identity and payment, and data collection should allow to learn quickly and focus on the user. All innovations can only be successful in partnership with NGOs, governments, private sector, academia, and foundations.

Building capacity to respond, or the African Risk Capacity initiative in which countries pool their resources to increase the threshold of national institutions, should help to bridge gap humanitarian – development.  (*4.1)

Dr. Richard J. Brennan, Director, Emergency Risk Management and Humanitarian Response Department, World Health Organisation, Geneva, has had to overcome his initial reservation to work with new IT firms, but still worries to get the basics right in the way the new tools are applied and methods are measured. The humanitarian landscape does not only mean a growing number of affected populations, but also growing risk and newly emerging epidemics. The Ebola outbreak showed the increasing convergence of health crisis and humanitarian emergencies.

The current focus on early warning, research and development on outbreaks of epidemics or new diseases (Ebola, Zika) has shown major gaps in preparedness for outbreak of disease. Various constituencies have to be brought together for preparedness and response. A new instant management system is now in place, while many agencies have a gap in response management; the approach to coordination of major international response has shifted away from the classical model of the cluster system to also include research and development, governments, local partners and communities.

Early warning systems now include new IT technologies and can provide tools for training and access to aggregated data, and monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and have been rolled out in several countries. More new tools are under fast track development to more effectively respond to new outbreaks, but the basics must be kept in mind.

Mr. Hassan Al-Damluji, Head, Middle East Relations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, focused on several innovative partnerships. It is the largest private foundation providing mainly grants for food security and health for the poorest people in the world. Partnerships and collaboration, rigour, optimism, and innovation are its core values. While global eradication of polio was largely successful, it remained a challenge in hard to reach areas, such as the Northern Pakistan / Afghanistan border area and Northern Nigeria. Through leadership of and partnership with the UAE with financial support and humanitarian resources, the global polio campaign became a great success, and more recently an outbreak in Syria was brought under control.

Comments from the floor included that partnerships in preparedness before or during conflict or crisis are important to reduce the needs and the costs of responding to remaining or new needs. More emphasis on preparedness and prediction can reduce the impact of new challenges, e.g. in diseases or for small farmers to be connected to markets.

Investments for preparedness capacity at local levels have been too limited and are now focus of new study and collaboration. Humanitarian Leadership Academy is a UNICEF initiative to increase the number and geographical dispersal of highly trained responders to humanitarian crises.

The issue of sustainability through partnerships should also support projects with a longer-term scope to address also social challenges. The challenge is to help countries in times of transition, not only through financial support but also to create a bridge to self-reliance.

Innovation should be in adapting to changing systems and not just in new “gadgets”. Psycho-social and cultural dimensions of behavioural change of the target communities should not be overlooked.

SESSION 5 – Innovation and Development (part 1: “Ensuring innovation is both sustainable and responding to genuine needs”)


Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary-General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Geneva – Chair, mentioned that innovation is part of our DNA. Innovation is about constant change so it is a challenge for it to be sustainable. She opened the session by putting specific questions to each of the speakers.

Dr. Jelte van Wieren, Director, Humanitarian Aid Department, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed the hope that the WHS will make progress towards change in the mindset. Innovation should be carried by the system or the organisation that took the first step. To be sustainable for worldwide results, innovation must be perpetual. To be effective, it should increase the effectiveness and efficiency. Innovation is a risky business and should allow for several experiments to fail, which is true both for donors and for implementing actors. With less than one percent spent on research and development (R&D), the culture and way of thinking should focus on what innovations can bring about change in delivering aid. Not only innovative products are needed, but also processes and innovating paradigms in the ways we try to solve problems by thinking out of the box. The promise of successful innovation is worthwhile the efforts and investments in R&D. Systems of innovation and of change have a habit of creative destruction, so old ways of working will have to be left behind, and investment has to be increased and ultimately reduce inputs.

Mr. Francois Grunewald, Executive Director, “Groupe Urgence, Rehabilitation, Developpement” (URD), France, sees innovation as the way out when all efforts to address problems have failed by working differently and at lower cost. Scalability of innovation is important, and it should be responding to a specific problem. Some innovations do not need to be sustainable, as the problem they address will not recur, e.g. outbreak of Ebola. Innovation is first of all the right to fail, as in the first phase it is an experiment and can have a zero result. The challenge is how to create an ecosystem by experimenting. Innovation is inherently linked to risk taking. While many technical innovations are there for better response, others are to help affected populations to better help themselves. The issue of ethics is important. The risk of technical innovations is that there is less engagement with the affected populations. Besides technology there is a need for knowledge and understanding. The Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) initiative agreed on the need to standardise reporting formats to reduce time and energy of projects, but little progress has been made so far.

Mr. Robert Watkins, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Bangladesh, stressed with regard to innovation the need for certain conditions to be put in place, and not just new gadgetry. Sustainable innovation is like continuing revolution, a contradiction in terms. It has to demonstrate its effectiveness and be responsible to established needs. Conditions are the design for a specific context; early partnerships with those willing; building with scale in mind; and measuring process and impact. It should be beneficial for a large segment of the population, and be cost effective. Taking Bangladesh as an example, he illustrated the investment in mobile telecommunication, which created the environment allowing for humanitarian and development actors to work more effectively. The problem of congestion in the capital Dhaka in case of need of emergency medical assistance has been overcome by wide training of people in responding to medical emergencies and by also having access to an application on mobile phones.

Comments from the floor included that, rather than better engaging with the private sector, the question is how we can catch up with them, and for engagement to be mutually profitable. Business models of the private sector need to be adopted by the aid sector. Creative industry in The Netherlands could be used also by the humanitarian sector to respond to large gatherings of people due to emergency or displacement sites involving crowd control, sanitary, healthcare and food provisions. The Dutch Coalition of Humanitarian Innovation brings together universities and the humanitarian sector with the private sector. 

A question was asked about creative financing of innovation in the field and the future financial role of states. The importance is whether innovation has a relevant impact on delivering aid. 

One suggestion is for private sector human resource practices to be applied for the humanitarian sector as long as the humanitarian principles continue to be respected as well as the problems identified by the people in need are responded to.

Outsourcing response to the private sector may not have to be an intentional action, as the private sector will likely pick up when there is an opportunity for financial gain.

The low level tolerance of risk and willingness to take risk is a great impediment to progress, so this culture needs to be fought against by showing the final profits at the end of the road.

The value of big data for the aid sector is that it allows for continuous, real-time information on humanitarian behaviour, which can be used for agile response to crises and saving lives. At the same time, there is the risk for abuse of the data, and it can be paralysing as it is constantly changing. Innovation is only useful as far as its tools do not distract from the bigger impact of the overall innovation of the way in which we work.

SPECIAL SESSION – The humanitarian impact of the protracted Syria crisis.

Mr. Amin Awad, Director, Middle East & North Africa Bureau, and Regional Refugee Coordinator for the Syria and Iraq SituationsUNHCR, had been encouraged by some of the innovative new proposals and ideas in the discussions, so essential in facing the enormous obstacles the region is facing with 18 million displaced people. He pointed out that more than 200 agencies are working together through one joint appeal to address the humanitarian needs resulting from the Syrian crisis, which is directly affecting 4.5 million refugees, 6.4 million displaced in-country, four to five million in hard to reach areas, and another seven million directly or indirectly affected. It is the biggest displacement since WWII, with added to this the displaced in Iraq, making up 38% of all displacement in an area with only 5% of the global population. Syria is at a turning point with borders closed, and walls in Europe with many more migrants on their way.  This year alone, 142,000 people crossed from Turkey to Greece to continue north to Europe. While hoping for a political settlement and a future, and as Syrians do value education, with a generation for five years out of schools, their moving in search of education is understandable.

UN appeals are only 10 to 20 percent funded and the lack of burden sharing from richer countries is an additional concern. Seven out of ten refugees live in desperate poverty, making them resort to alternative means of income. Increased access is now needed to provide aid to some 2.5 million people under siege. The dramatic move to Europe is now impeded by the closure of borders. There is a need for a major increase and effective forward looking solidarity from rich countries towards neighbouring countries and refugees in the sub region, the lack of which is facilitating the work of illegal traffickers and crime.

Since the London conference on Syria and with all the hard work to mobilise funding, the response to appeals stands at only 4%, which means that there is no funding to take care of 4.8 million people in the region and the additional ten million people. The Speaker regretted to have to share this sobering information, and issued his personal appeal to step up implementation of and adherence to the Principles of the 1951 Convention on Refugees in a correct way. (Download Presentation)

Comments from the floor: What is the role of the Gulf States in the crisis? Countries have put a freeze on moving any Syrian working in the region upon the end of their contracts; work is ongoing on family reunification; USD 1.5 billion were raised from the region in the three years of appeals. The Syrian situation has been politically charged with refugees at the forefront of misgivings and xenophobia, but UNHCR works along existing criteria for continued support to avoid additional movements.

Appeals funded for 4% is hopefully not indicating a new trend of lower response, as it is the biggest crisis in history, and the low response must be corrected to be able to help the people in need. There is no Plan B for UN agencies in view of low funding, because they have to pay the bill to help stabilize the region. 

SESSION 6 –Innovation and Development (part 2: “Building resilient communities through the pursuit of SDG and DRR objectives”)


Mr. Claus Sorensen, Senior Adviser for Resilience, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, European Political Strategy Centre (ESPC) – Chair, introduced the session by indicating the link between the SDG discussion, outcome of Sendai, and COP21 as the big troublemaker is climate change, to which global security issues can be added. The UN Secretary-General’s report ahead of the WHS sets out these links, with focus on the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.

Only if we manage to harvest the outcome of the SDGs and Sendai discussions can the caseload be reduced. Risk assessment with a main focus on natural disasters, but also linked to governments, is the main outcome of Sendai, while some of the SDGs are particularly important for vulnerable populations, such as health, clean water and energy, inequalities, climate action, and appropriate governance structures. Each decision has to be reflected at the regional, national, and the local community level, which is a major challenge.

Mr. David Kaatrud, Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, World Food Programme (WFP), Bangkok, focused on the Asian region perspective which has more natural disaster than conflict challenges. Frameworks for resilience building include Agenda 2030 with the Strategic Sustainable Development Plan to manage risk; Sendai DRR and COP21 on risk management through mitigation; and Emergency Preparedness and Response (WHS) on management of residual / unforeseen risk.

Most of these frameworks iterate the locally and nationally owned and led initiatives with international support, which is to be multi-sector and multi-stakeholder (Whole-of-Society), stressing the Risk Management Approach. This implies domestic resourcing – funding for development, solutions to be better reached through inclusion, and working at the local and national level.

Community-based Resilience Building entails capacity strengthening rather than building from scratch; it involves social capital, physical and economic dimensions (linking small farmers with the available markets). It also requires knowledge of risk and vulnerability and understanding among communities as well as linking with national systems for social protection and safety nets, preparedness facilities, and anticipatory financing for participatory action and preparedness with risk insurance. The focus on local capacity creation needs to be continued and enhanced. (Download Presentation)

Mr. Dominique Burgeon, Director, Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Rome, mentioned that the annual DIHAD Conference is a high moment being looked forward to. FAO has moved also to implementation of the Resilience Agenda, covering often simultaneously relief and development. Most focus is on SDG-2 to provide policy support and data to the countries to help them achieve the SDGs.

In the Central African Republic and in South Sudan, FAO closely monitor the food security situation, while helping protect and save agriculture-based livelihoods, such as through the provision of agricultural inputs, fishing equipment and livestock supplies, working on longer-term resilience building. These countries are exposed to other shocks and threats – besides conflicts -, such as extreme weather events, and animal and plant pest diseases.

The Sendai agreement is very important for the agricultural sector, as 75% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood, while on average 22% of the cost resulting from natural disasters occurs in the field of agriculture. Transfer of technology, evidence building through a biannual report on the impact of disasters on agriculture, policy advice to governments, identification and documentation of good practices, are some ways for taking the SDGs forward.

In The Philippines, multi-stress tolerant varieties have been made available in drought-affected areas, resulting in a growth in outputs of at least 22%. In further DRR efforts in The Philippines, there is a bigger return on investment by the use of fishing pots. In conflict situations, agriculture remains the main source of livelihood. Agricultural supply chains are heavily impacted, and without external support, farmers such as in Syria have often no other choice than to move within or across borders. SAFE –safe access to fuel energy – together with UNHCR aims to reduce the need for firewood by 30% with measurable benefit to both refugees, in particular women, and host communities. The A2R (Anticipate, Absorb and Reshape) initiative launched by the UN Secretary-General at COP21, will i.a. help put together a range of tools to work on insurance. Early Warning for Early Action is an initiative of FAO to initiate action and trigger investments as early as possible.

Dr. Harpinder Collacott, Executive Director, Development Initiatives, London, indicated that DI does not only produce the Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) report, but also gathers data on all resources and on people to inform decisions at global and local levels. Focus is on the ambitious Agenda 2030 “to leave no one behind” by innovative approaches to financing resilience. In 2013 66% of all GHA went to protracted crises, while only 8% of crises were solved within three years. Poverty makes people more vulnerable to crises and other risks, while 31% of people in extreme poverty are in environmentally and politically fragile countries. Data on people and their needs should be better coordinated, and government and other capacity for data collection and analysis must be strengthened. Displacement in the MENA region has now outranked that in northern Africa. Implication for the financing pictures is that six countries have received 30% of global financing, while in 2014 funding from the Gulf countries  doubled in one year.

She referred to collective action needed to reduce IDPs by 50% by 2030 as indicated in the UNS-G’s report for the WHS. The Regional Resilience and Refugee plan (3RP) launched in 2014 presents a longer-term shift, but the livelihood sector of the plan is poorly financed. The MENA financing initiative emerged from the Syria conference seeks to encourage Europe in establishing livelihood improvement initiatives.

On average, 335 weather related disasters have happened each year since 2005. The Africa Risk Capacity (ARC) initiative, preparing for drought and pooling risk, thus reducing the cost of insurances, was rolled out in three countries while five more countries joined in 2015. The role of national and local actors in capacity building is crucial. “As local as possible and as national as necessary” is mentioned in the UNSG’s report to the WHS. Innovative ways for financing resilience have to be further explored, using mechanisms applied for financing several health interventions. (Download Presentation)

Comments from the floor included that it is important to agree on one joint mechanism for data collection so as not to have to bother affected populations, and in particular on disability, which is a challenge since data is not disaggregated at the lowest level. In the P20 initiative, DI is currently initiating data gathering with focus on the needs of the poorest 20%. 

The challenge of food distribution during emergency and its ending up on the markets can to some degree be attributed to the fact that the food items are not appropriate, and that recipients decide to monetize items of lesser relevance. Therefore, cash-based tools can help in mobilizing or creating markets as affected populations can choose the response to their needs.

SPECIAL SESSION’S – Leadership, as important in humanitarian aid and development as coordination


Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Professor, Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, University of Manchester, and Special Advisor, World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) – Chair, introduced the panel members and several questions he foresaw the panel to address. These included what is leadership, should leaders have unique qualities and be worshipped, is leadership only at the top? What goes on inside the head of a leader? It was believed that leaders are born, not bred. Is a leader born that way, or learned through training? History has shown that some leaders do not solve but create problems. Is it just another skill to be learned? There is no straightforward definition of leadership, but we all know what is a good or a bad leader.

He gave ten lessons from personal experience:

  1. a leader acquires or is defined by followers;
  2. leadership is about getting people from where they are or where they have not been or not necessarily want to go;
  3. leadership comes from the strength inside one’s own inner self;
  4. a leader asks what and why, a manager asks how and when;
  5. in matters of style one should swim with the current, in matters of principle as a leader stand as a rock;
  6. leadership comes out of the struggle between courage and cowardness, having the courage to make tough choices and be prepared to accept the cost;
  7. leadership should come from the power of an idea, not of a position;
  8. genuine humanitarian leadership does not boast about itself, it means to be ready to sacrifice;
  9. best humanitarian leaders are those that have suffered themselves and have the strength to transform the lives of others;
  10. a leader has a vision, gives hope, and is resilient.

One question is whether humanitarianism can be led as a business. The best way to find out whether one is a leader is by trying out what leadership qualities one has. (Download Presentation)

Mr. Toby Lanzer, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, mentioned that leadership is about doing the right thing, and he gave several examples about what could be seen as right and wrong acts. It is important to understand the interest of the interlocutor and to empower people when wanting to achieve change in fragile states. This can be through making sure women get access to healthcare, nutrition, and education, and investing in local communities. One situation in which he has shown leadership was in Juba, when he directed staff to open the UN Mission’s gates to let displaced people inside the peacekeeping premises for their protection. This way good collaboration between humanitarian and peacekeepers started. In the Sahel is a need to draw attention to the triple challenge of violent extremism, extreme poverty, and the threat of climate change. Groups of violent extremists who do not want to negate do limit the humanitarian space; neutrality is how the interlocutor wants to be seen by the other party. Leadership is often an uphill battle based on the traditional image of humanitarian actors which may limit their effectiveness. A real leader must recognise the limits of his power, and focus on steering change.

The root of problems must be recognised rapidly for aid to be effective. The WHS should work on bringing together humanitarian, development and political systems.

Ms. Saba Al Mubaslat, Chief Executive, Humanitarian Leadership Academy, London, has worked in many countries with refugee situations. Now as an academic leader she saw as an essential prerequisite for a leader to show respect for different forms of leadership. Leadership does not necessarily entail using power or authority, but rather to show empathy, respect and commitment. It means being humble enough to capture all learning from people in their daily lives, and put people in the centre. It is to bring positive change to the painful lives of refugees, and to remain human while discussing systems.

Dr. Jean-Francois de Lavison, President, AHIMSA (Respect for Life) Partners, Lyon, France, focuses on innovative business models and active partnerships. Managers do things right, leaders do things for the common good. Globalisation brings about change, which cannot be resisted but must be contributed to. It brings also new values and new ethics. Example is given by doing and not just talking; tolerance; humanity and accepting difference; individual in taking decisions; compassion by showing dignity, fairness and respect; society to bear the challenge.

Solutions are brought about by empowerment; trust; innovative partnership including governments; breaking down silos and bridging new initiatives, holistic approaches; moving from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to CSI – I for initiative. He also referred to the Global Compact’s role in globalisation. Prevention is key and there is a need to bring together emergency and development, to develop innovative models such as social entrepreneurship, innovative ideas such as a network among social entrepreneurs with refugees to create their values. Youth must be recognised and given a chance to learn, combining wisdom of experience with enthusiasm of the youth. Leadership is vision plus action; we need a leader to bridge the initiatives. Leadership can be a bridge between cultures, the same way as it can be between humanitarian and development.

Dr. James Kisia, Executive Director, International Centre for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Secretary-General, Kenya Red Cross, Nairobi, has management and leadership experience in the medical field. He was asked to focus on innovative leadership in an organisation that is more of a phenomenon. Leaders are managers of change. Innovative leadership is often defined and complicated by conflict and disaster, while our context of working is becoming increasingly risk averse, and risk capital is very limited. While more innovation is wanted, risk taking is less desired due to fixed structures based on best practice. Failure is integral to learning and inventing, and innovation requires being willing to fail and learn from mistakes. Several initiatives in times of disaster have taught that unique partnerships with the private sector in absence of major donors (like Kenyans for Kenyans) could be successful. Innovation requires bringing down silos and working across organisations, while experiments are needed. Leadership requires knowing when to follow and when to lead. Leadership will be defeated by bureaucracy, and a good leader must also be a good follower.

Mr. Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organisation, Singapore, is the world leader on toilets. Forty percent of the world population – some 2.5 billion people – do not have access to toilets, 1.5 million children under five die every year due to a lack of sanitation. The mindset of addressing this taboo issue has opened up doors to a leadership role with an outreach of three billion. In 2001, the date of 19 November has been designated by the UN as World Toilet Day. The UN speaks of the Water Agenda. To be a leader requires commitment to the mission and vision, which guides us and becomes our leader. To see oneself as a server helps to guide other servers and be as peers.

It is a challenge to increase the velocity of money in poor communities into entrepreneurship based on good ideas. Monitoring & Evaluation as part of a funding process takes money, but does not show any impact at the end. Do- gooders must be transformed by sharing the good ideas of social entrepreneurs. Bringing all players together to create an ecosystem, and sharing ideas or inputs are needed. Access to, and proper use of, energy can lead to savings, e.g. in logistics and transportation, and through combining procurement. The World Trade Centre for the Poor in Singapore is one of his initiatives.

Dr. Runa Khan, Founder and Executive Director, The “Friendship” Organisation, Bangladesh, has spearheaded an innovative health system in the poorest areas of Bangladesh, and published eight books. She believes that ‘Realisation must lead to Responsibility’. For her leadership is about having clarity of vision and not giving in to challenges. It is not wanting to be a leader, but having the courage to carry out a vision. The work we do should be acceptable for the people we want to serve. It is a way of synergizing, believing in people’s strengths. It is a challenge to be coming from the grassroots to the national level, and it requires strong advocacy skills on the mission. To be a leader requires the ability to be a follower, have faith, discipline, and conviction. Leadership is not what we try to do but what we are, and showing trust in people’s goodness. (Download PresentationView Video)

SPECIAL SESSION –Innovation and organisational change

Dr. Edit Favoreu, Deputy Director, Geneva Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action (CERAH), showed that thinking outside the box, being creative, is important to create something different and to be innovative. Innovation in humanitarian settings is a dynamic process of new or improved products, services, paradigms and concepts. The cultural or physical environment must allow for using the capability to be creative. In the field, most innovations happen at micro-level and are very context specific, and are transactional. Incremental ones are those that improve existing processes, while transformational (radical) ones take place in the planning process and in the strategic thinking phase. The targets of innovation are the affected people who are also creators, organisations and people working in them, and sectors. They are new things, new ways, or old things or ways with new means. Innovation aims at improving the quality of the delivery of improved assistance. It is also related to simplification.

In organisational change, innovation is everywhere, led by and linked with people, and can happen at different levels, including policy, strategy and behaviour. One change at one level can change all levels in an organisation, so leaders have a crucial role at different levels. Leaders must take into account and use the opportunity of external conditions, such as needs, challenges, cultural and legal opportunities, but they must also develop and optimise internal conditions. This includes allowing for the space to take risks and the right to fail, providing incentives through recognition and ownership of new ideas, and capturing innovations through traditional mechanisms of training, brainstorming, and dissemination and replication of innovations.

The dynamic process of innovation generates knowledge, involves taking risk, which can do harm or increase vulnerability, or not be accessible or accepted due to time and cultural limits. (Download Presentation)


  1. “Why creativity and innovation go hand-in-hand with success and growth”

Imam Qasim Rashid Ahmad, Founder and Chairman, Al Khair Foundation, set out how innovation was introduced in his own organisation, which initially was established in 2004 for education. He had expressed surprise that an Islamic NGO declined to deliver relief in a non-Muslim country, as the humanitarian need is to be the focus. His innovative fundraising guidelines include: Expectations from (private) donors are high, transparency must be at the highest level, collaborations between organisations must be optimal.

  1. “Innovative methods in Emergency Response”

Ms Liz Hughes, Chief Executive, MapAction, UK, focused on technological innovation in emergency response. This requires the right institutional culture, thinking 10x (bigger than needed), launch then keep listening, hire the right people, focus on the user and not the competition. For a mapping agency it is possible to help guide response by illustrating an existing situation, but also to raise concerns such as about the use of drones. A concern is to use technology in the right way to help people in need; make clear what the purpose is; while technology can be beneficial, one should not have to rely on it; technology also applies to the usefulness of products; big data can be paralysing, but can also be of great value.

By adopting three technologies of GPS, GIS, and satellite imagery and communications, a web mapping capacity was created with a team of well- qualified people in the form of a simple kit, the web-mapping kiosk (laptop, mobile phone). A transformational innovation applied is appointing a company working with geometric methodology, which focuses on the process involving end users. Innovation is not to be seen as a separate project but as part of the running costs, needing good partnerships to allow for change to further develop. (Download Presentation)

  1. “Innovative approaches to access”

Mr. Mario Stephan, Founding Director, Arabian Perspectives, Dubai, drew from his personal and humanitarian experience. The definition in the dictionary of “access” is a method and linkage, and not being blocked to reach the destination. Innovative ways must be found to overcome denial of access. Perception is key – too Arab, too Western, too faith based – and often the basis for access to be denied. Ignorance, paranoia, security are also often reasons for denial, as is lack of understanding who we are and what we aim to do. The notion of testimony can be problematic as well. We need to find new ways to speak the same language and find common ground, by-pass restrictions and obstacles to uphold the humanitarian imperative, identify key collaborators, look at the regional context and how humanitarian principles and IHL can relate to Islamic principles, law and teachings. Recognising shortcomings and gaps, and interaction outside conflict and disaster environments are needed, albeit coming sometimes at high cost, to make differences understood. Raising the profile is key to receive funding and to become a legitimate actor. Remote programming is a tool to receive access at the local level, and enables to aim higher, and is a way out in cases of safety and security risks. Working with grassroots organisations is necessary as they can provide humanitarian capacity, specific support such as training and expertise, and they can have access on the ground (e.g. White Helmets in Syria or the Red Cross movement). Therefore, innovation is a solution in situations of limited access to the people we aim to reach.

  1. The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21), results and perspectives for humanitarian actors;

H.E. Amb. Patrice Paoli, Director, Crisis and Support Centre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, France, gave some insight in the results and progress after the Paris meeting. Innovation is needed to create a new language on climate change. In light of the mostly silent tragedies created by environmental changes, climate change is often at the basis.

Climate change has changed the number of seasons in Africa, alternating times of drought and floods, as a result of which agriculture has become almost impossible, thus leading to food insecurity. This causes massive migrations with many countries threatened along the Indian Ocean, while also in South America many countries are affected and migrations are massive. The scope of migration is unprecedented with cities at saturation points and causing tensions. A real risk exists that the current migration crisis will become reality, intensified and spreading tensions and rise of terrorist organisations, but also on the way of life, and urbanisation and radicalisation. As by 2050 some 9.7 billion people will populate the earth, creating high vulnerability, resilience must be increased.

Solutions proposed in Paris include better collaboration between the private sector, local communities and organisations. It tries to create transparency of actions, monitoring of government actions, increased funding for climate resilient projects. More funding is pledged, while a signing ceremony in September will seal these pledges. Humanitarian and development actors must move their thinking towards adaptation, in which innovation will be central, such as the use of satellite imagery, development of early warning systems, use of drones to track desert locust or assess emergency needs, or weather forecasting. A diversified eco-system to prevent crises and conflicts to face situations of fragility and crisis must be flexible and adaptable, supporting the role of local actors. Financing for local NGOs must be increased. (Download Presentation)

  1. The World Humanitarian Summit (Istanbul, 23-24 May 2016)update on preparatory activities/consultations:

Dr. Robert Smith, Chief, Office of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) Secretariat, Geneva, pointed out that the Summit will be very timely as populations will grow and be more urban, while conflicts will mount and become more severe. But there is also more political will to take responsibility for response, while also the private sector will be more engaged. WHS aims at bringing leaders together and creating awareness that a crisis point must be turned into a turning point. After a two-year consultation process at different levels and locations, the agenda for humanity has been issued, built around five core responsibilities:

– Political will to prevent and end conflict

– International Humanitarian Law, Humanitarian Principles and Refugee laws to be upheld

– No one is to be left behind

– Move from delivering aid to ending need

– Investing in humanity, not by more money but better use of it.

The Summit is organised in six main segments: Leaders segment, Summit Announcement Plenary, High Level roundtables, Special Sessions, side events (some 80), and an exhibition fair and innovation marketplace.

Outcome documents will be the Chair’s Summary; Commitments to Action; and the SG’s Report to the GA on the outcomes of the Summit. The Post Summit follow-up will be in the report.

Humanitarian action of the future should be with more resilience, communication will be rich, aid will be better targeted, resource and finance will be complete and fast, and much aid will be in electronic cash. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles will deliver key materials, while political actors will prioritise humanitarian response above all other priorities. We must plan for ten years ahead as every day brings new challenges and changes. High-level participation and campaigns for respective heads of state to participate in Istanbul are solicited. (Download Presentation)


 Mr. Toby Lanzer, Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel,  tried to refer and add value to much of the rich discussion of the three days. The events in Brussels, the problems of climate change, the fate of the poorest communities, all are challenges of our days. It is in our grasp to work better with local organisations, empowering women and girls, or have the power to let go as a result of change. The principle of neutrality is in the eye of the beholder, and it is questionable whether it still is as valid as it was in the past. So, focusing on the principle of impartiality may be of more value. Development is one of the exit strategies for humanitarian workers, as addressing the development priorities of authorities and populations is the real test. The real test of humanity is the capacity to listen, upholding human rights, and creating trade and commerce capacity, not withdrawing in silos, and defending humanitarian space. The real test will be our capacity to collaborate, and to uphold the UN values. The mantra of the SDG “leave no one behind” is binding all of us together in the humanitarian and development spheres.

 H.E. Mr. Hesham Youssef, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, referred to the war in Yemen, the Syrian crisis, with tens of millions suffering as years pass by, and the gap between needs and resources which has also grown over the last decade.

DIHAD makes it possible to see that there is hope for a better future. He shared some of his main take away: innovation has leapfrogged in recent years as a result of new technology, but also the humanitarian community has become more open to the private sector and the technological revolution. Data and analysis have shown huge progress in collection and use, e.g. IOM tracking systems on displacement compromising accuracy in favour of knowledge, geographic image systems for mapping, with mobile communication becoming a main priority of displaced people, while we still fall short in the areas of shelter and food needs. Humanitarian needs can be used as a weapon. Technology can be helpful for affected populations, but we must make sure not to fail them. Analysis can be useful to address specific needs, e.g. gender. There is early warning improvement in preparedness for disasters through weather forecasting by Twitter, but not for addressing peaceful settlements of disputes or political crises.

Response is the area where most improvement has been witnessed, also by learning from experiences in other areas. The use of mobile communication can help finding the nearest aid provider, fast tracking the vaccine for Zika, improving food security, addressing requirements in regard to climate change, addressing nutrition, and providing dignity to people in need. Innovative solutions to refugee tents in Lebanon, radio in a box for refugee camps, they are examples for us to be hopeful. The road is still long, but it is attainable.

  • Innovation has mainly come from private initiatives and little from systems and changing mindsets. Much more is needed to create an environment conducive to innovation, and bridging gaps, e.g. between humanitarian and development, where coherence is still lacking. Respect for IHL and tackling climate change need far more attention, as does education for children in crisis situations.
  • Leadership also lacks political leadership in settling disputes, and more leaders must be nurtured in the humanitarian sphere.

If there is a group today deserving a Nobel Prize it is the humanitarian workers on the ground, working every day under stress.


H.E. Amb. Gerhard Putman-Cramer, Director, DIHAD International Scientific Advisory Board, reiterated the thanks he had voiced at the Gala Dinner, on the Board’s behalf, to all Speakers, Panellists and participants as well as to the Conference’s interpreters. He specifically thanked the Closing Speakers for the outstanding manner in which they had outlined the Conference’s highlights. He advised that a report on the Conference would be available online shortly, and requested all who had a written version of their presentation to make that available to the Rapporteur. He further advised that, should there still be questions to Speakers for which there had been no time, all contact details were available for follow-up exchanges.

Furthermore, he announced that the next DIHAD event will be held on 21-23 March 2017, and that the Conference’s theme will focus on the particular impact of crises and disasters on children, this to include issues related to protection, nutrition and education.

Lastly, in regard to the theme of DIHAD 2016 – the importance of innovation – Amb. Putman-Cramer agreed with the statement of the Conference’s Keynote Speaker, ICRC Director-General Yves Daccord: “the status quo is not an option”. He concluded by expressing the hope that DIHAD 2016 will have contributed to processes that will support the identification and acceptance of solutions, at the World Humanitarian Summit and beyond, and, on that note, declared the Conference formally closed.