WHS: “We need new solutions, new ways of responding, new pathways to resilience”

14 Feb 2014

In 2016, representatives from governments, the humanitarian community, the private sector, academia and civil society will meet in Istanbul, Turkey, at the World Humanitarian Summit. Credit: UN Photo.
The launch of the new World Humanitarian Summit website kicks off two years of intensive outreach in the lead up to 2016’s historic meeting.

The launch of a new World Humanitarian Summit website kicks off two years of intensive outreach in the lead up to the 2016 global gathering in Istanbul, Turkey.

The website – www.worldhumanitariansummit.org– marks an important public step in a process that seeks to redefine the way that people affected by disasters and crises receive humanitarian assistance, and how they engage with humanitarian organizations.

"We need new solutions, new ways of responding, new pathways to resilience,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a video message recorded for the launch of the new online portal.

“Over the next two years we will be organizing events in all regions and hosting online discussions to solicit answers to our humanitarian challenges.”

A rapidly changing humanitarian landscape

The date and location of the World Humanitarian Summit were first revealed during the 2013 General Assembly.

The Summit reflects the rapidly changing humanitarian landscape, says Paul Knox-Clarke, the Head of Research for ALNAP – the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance.

“New challenges – population growth and urbanization, people living in vulnerable situations, global food insecurity and climate change, make for a pretty scary list,” Knox-Clarke said.

“But there are important changes that can contribute to addressing these challenges … We need to move away from a focus on problems and focus [instead] on what works.”

The Summit aims to set a new humanitarian agenda for a new era in humanitarian action, one that embraces a wide range of actors, forges new partnerships and spurs more innovative and effective ways of working.

The road to Istanbul

Over the coming two years, ongoing and intensive global consultations, both online and in regional meetings, will be held to feed into the Summit, incorporating the views of all key constituencies, including governments, humanitarian groups, civil society, the private sector, and, most importantly, community first-responders and affected populations.

This consultation process will allow the broader humanitarian community to take stock of what has worked, lessons that have been learnt, and the steps needed to ensure that the humanitarian system remains ‘fit for purpose’ in the 21st century.

In Istanbul, humanitarian stakeholders will come together to discuss these findings and define a new and more inclusive agenda for humanitarian action.

“Globally, as we become more united through our networks, the humanitarian community needs to find ways to grow and evolve and deliver assistance in a more timely and effective way,” said Semhar Araia, the Executive Director of Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN).

“This [the World Humanitarian Summit] is a huge opportunity to listen and see what has been working, and share best practices.”

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