In response to the considerable challenges facing the humanitarian system, there is an increasing emphasis on encouraging innovation -- the adaptation/use of new technologies, concepts and potential partners in such a way as to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian action. Driving this attention to innovation are a number of factors: emergence of new technologies, growing engagement with the private sector and military, "new" actors entering the humanitarian system and the search for new models of responding to crisis. Innovation merits some caution – the sector cannot 'gadget' itself its way around of the complexity and difficulty of its achieving its ambitions.

Man standing outside tent with solar panels in IDP camp Site du Petit Seminaire St.Pierre Claver in Bangassou, Central African Republic.Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Key actors

Supports organizations and individuals to identify and share innovative and scalable solutions to the challenges facing effective humanitarian assistance

Partnership of leading humanitarian organizations aiming to accelerate humanitarian innovation in order to tackle common challenges

Provides an interface between formal professional humanitarian organizations and informal digital volunteer and technical networks

Research program run jointly by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) to develop technical solutions to humanitarian challenges

Network consisting of 42 aid agencies with the aim of delivering more effective aid, spreading knowledge, and driving innovation in the areas of localization and new forms of financing, including the Start Fund and the Crisis Anticipation Window

Key references

Policy paper on the rise of humanitarian innovation, the unique challenges it brings, examples of humanitarian innovation in practice, and recommendations on how to advance the debate

Study on the key barriers to scale innovation in the humanitarian sector at both an operations and systemic level, how the sector is currently tackling these challenges, and key recommendations

Edition on innovation in the humanitarian sector, its challenges, risks, and opportunities, as well as lessons learnt from case studies of innovation in humanitarian responses

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