Humanitarian – private partnership and innovation

Humanitarian – private partnership and innovation   - Photo: Norwegian Mission in Geneva

Partnership and humanitarian innovation was the overarching theme last week, as the Permanent Mission of Norway welcomed nine Norwegian companies to Geneva for a capacity-building course.

With the aim of better equipping Norwegian small and medium sized enterprises to engage in humanitarian response, Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Emergency Preparedness System (NOREPS) has designed a one-year course with a broad curriculum. Hosting more than 30 UN and international organizations, about 300 NGOs, and more than 170 diplomatic missions, Geneva was an obvious destination in a course that also features field trips to the UN city in Copenhagen, Nairobi, Addis Ababa and tailor made, sector specific field trips.

Meetings with Geneva-based organizations

In cooperation with the humanitarian organizations, the Mission designed a program that included meetings with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and the World Health Organization (WHO), among others. The agenda included an update on current developments in humanitarian aid, humanitarian – private partnership, innovation and sector specific discussions on health, renewable energy, education, shelter and water and sanitation. The program facilitated face-to-face meetings between private actors and humanitarian experts and created a platform for dialogue and potential partnership.

Innovation Night and World Café

Although involvement of private actors in humanitarian aid is considered as essential to meet growing humanitarian needs, there seems to be a scarcity of platforms where private actors and humanitarians can easily engage. Teaming up with the Camp Coordination, Camp Management (CCCM) global cluster meeting, the Mission decided to organize a meeting platform on the topic of cooperation in humanitarian innovation, inviting key stakeholders to an interactive evening.

With more than 70 participants, the theme evidently struck a cord and the discussion was lively, both during the world café and the panel debate that followed. Christopher Earney, Head a.i. of UNHCR innovation, Mark Henderson, adviser for Cash Based Interventions for the Norwegian Refugee Council and Bart van Ouytsel, EVP Business Development at W. Giertsen Energy Solutions, shared their respective views on innovation from various sectors. Underlining the essential aspect of partnerships in humanitarian innovation, the discussion brought up issues like risk appetite, skill sharing, communication challenges, bureaucracy and funding constraints. Plenty of food for thought and further deliberation.

The Mission extends its appreciation to the participating companies and all the humanitarian colleagues who contributed.