Innovation summit 2023: ‘A fantastic opportunity to reimagine humanitarian action’

Innovation summit 2023: ‘A fantastic opportunity to reimagine humanitarian action’
26 June 2023

By the Climate Centre

Describing the IFRC Global Innovation Summit 2023 as “a fantastic opportunity to reimagine humanitarian action”, Secretary General Jagan Chapagain today said a culture of innovation would enable the Red Cross Red Crescent to address the needs of communities served by the Movement more effectively.

Inviting participants, both in person and virtual, to join a “transformative journey” (it’s not too late to register), Mr Chapagain issued a three-part call to action, starting with an emphasis on the collaboration that he said would “break down silos and foster partnerships that amplify our impact [by leveraging] collective knowledge, resources, and experiences to deliver more effective and efficient management systems.”   

Secondly, it was important “to invest in understanding the changing world”. Rapid changes in the environment, technology, politics, and social norms were triggering complex humanitarian crises; in response, the IFRC network could draw on century-long experience and expertise, but “a culture of anticipation” would equip the organization “to identify trends, understand their implications, and develop forward-thinking strategies.”

Thirdly and probably most importantly, he stressed: “Let’s empower local innovators – that will be a key service to our localizing agenda. Supporting innovators within our organizations is of the utmost importance”; they are “the catalyst of positive change within our organizations and the driving force behind our collective success.”

‘We will be exploring one thing, change, to make our work efficient, cheaper and reach more’

The IFRC’s three-day innovation summit began in Nairobi today, hosted by the Kenya Red Cross Society, after some preliminary events yesterday.

At the opening, KRCS Secretary-General Ahmed Idris asked participants from an estimated 75 National Societies: “Do we want to be transformative today, disruptive today, revolutionary today, or do we want to be innovative through an evolutionary process of small steps at a time?”

He tweeted: “We will be exploring only one thing, change, to make our work efficient, cheaper and reach more.”

The hybrid 2023 summit will “bring together change-makers, thought-leaders, and experts from around the world to share inspiring ideas, experience, and insights” online and in person in Nairobi, organizers said.

“This immersive experience will allow us to investigate the changes we need to make to be more fit for present and future challenges, and the role that innovation plays.”


A huge variety of workshops over the three days includes these (just the most recent edition) “top five digital interactive sessions”: transforming humanitarian response through technology, from the Humanitech Lab at the Australian Red Cross; disaster preparedness for teenagers, from the Asia Pacific Disaster Resilience Center; the Climate Centre’s youth games, facilitated by the MENA youth network; planning humanitarian aid based on evidence, by the Argentine Red Cross; and the British Red Cross asking – What kind of an innovator are you?

Overall, sessions will provide opportunities for “anyone from the Movement” to…

*Hear case studies from National Societies who have been transforming the way they work, including models of volunteering and financing;
*Meet senior leadership figures;
*Learn how virtual and augmented reality can be used educationally;
*Experience serious games as a tool for change and learning;
*See how successful innovative approaches can be scaled up across the Movement;
*Get more details on new approaches in cash programming, first aid, management, social entrepreneurship and livelihoods.

#IFRCGIS23 is sponsored by the IFRC’s Solferino Academy and the KRCS; other partners include the National Societies of the US, Spain, Italy, Austria, Ecuador, Norway and the Netherlands, as well as the Nairobi-based International Center for Humanitarian Affairs, the Climate Centre and the Global Disaster Preparedness Center.

The IFRC’s Global Innovation Summit 2023, described by Secretary General Jagan Chapagain as “a fantastic opportunity to reimagine humanitarian action”, got underway in Nairobi today, hosted by the Kenyan Red Cross. (Photo: Solferino Academy)