H2H Network at HNPW 2023

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The Humanitarian Networks and Partnership Week 2023 took place in Geneva (24-28 April) and online (17-28 April). H2H Network members offered over 30 panel discussions and 11 exhibition stands. Three network members led or co-led “Areas of Common Concern” on important topics of general interest: CHS Alliance on power dynamics and organizational culture; GISF on Integrating Security Risk Management Across Humanitarian Action; and ACAPS on Anticipatory Action. The forum also gathered H2H Network members for the H2H Network Annual General Meeting.

The H2H Network hosted two panel discussions: one on innovation, and one on the humanitarian response to the flooding in Pakistan. Please find the recordings below.

Innovation is dead! Long live innovation!

Innovation must grow up if the humanitarian sector is going to transform itself. Why are so many people saying “Innovation is a passing fad! Innovation labs have failed! Scaling solutions doesn’t work in humanitarian contexts!”. A decade on from our big drive for innovation and the bold statements in its support at the World Humanitarian Summit, aid practitioners are asking themselves what’s gone wrong. Why does it so often seem that innovation has failed to live up to its big promise to solve problems and drive vital improvements?

One thing for certain, there is no lack of big challenges... adapting to climate change, localizing aid, and really utilizing complex new technologies. The good news is that there are innovators who are taking on these kind of complex, messy problems but their journeys are turning out to be very different from what innovators in the past have done. It’s with this backdrop, that the H2H Network launched its USAID-funded Innovation Accelerator, exploring how pioneers of bigger, more systemic solutions are best supported to achieve success. Plot spoil… human-centred design of a lightweight pilot project isn’t getting them there.

In this panel, we explored what that has meant for three complex innovation initiatives in the accelerator, and the H2H Network itself, to scaffold up the creation of bigger, more complex innovations. The panel was chaired by Hannah Reichardt, innovation coach for the H2H Accelerator. Panelists represented H2H Network members who have participated in the H2H Innovation Accelerator, as well as a representative of the H2H Network itself.

These solutions don't only lie in the global north, and if we can only see the ones that lie in the global north, then that's a problem (…) The H2H model has tremendous potential to support the localization of aid (…) it casts the international responder in a new role.”  - Helen Kearney, H2H Network
Transformations are messy and nonlinear and I think that's part of the reticence of organizations to adopt this kind of tools, knowing that the pathway is not straightforward and it doesn't fit with the tools that we want to use to tackle it.” - Hannah Reichardt, Innovation Ecosystem
What we achieve will always be an awful lot less if one organization is pushing, than if 100 organizations are pulling and making changes. I think the way that change happens is that one change leads to another because you've upset the equilibrium (…) The basic fact is that we're not going to make things different by doing them the same” - Paul Knox-Clarke, ADAPT Initiative 

Flooding in Pakistan: What can the response tell us about the future of humanitarian action?

In mid-June 2022, Pakistan experienced an extreme monsoon rainfall season, resulting in uncontrollable flash floods and landslides across the country. The consequences of the flooding were widely recognized as having been exacerbated by climate change. Over 33 million people were affected by the disaster, with close to eight million people displaced, over 1,600 people dead, and nearly 13,000 injured.

As a middle-income country with substantial disaster management capacity and civil society, Pakistan’s government led the ensuing humanitarian response efforts. However, challenges around mounting and facilitating a large-scale response quickly emerged. Clusters were not activated, with international actors such as UN agencies and international NGOs instead participating in ‘sector’ coordination led by government ministries.

This panel brought together international actors, H2H Network project leads, and their national partners to review what was learned, asking what the response to the crisis teaches us about the future of humanitarian response.

We should have been prepared earlier, the immediate rescue should have been equipped by the proper rescue equipment, boats, and other things.” - Dr Shafqat Munir, Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad
Another important point is the collective capacity sharing, local communities are very important in capacity building (…) it’s always about collective effective humanity in response and if we eliminate the population who's affected by these challenges, I think we won't be able to make it. The local communities have enough capacity because it's all about resilience.” Asma Saleem, ICVA 
One lesson learned is that we were not having a good division of responsibilities, and we didn’t know what we will do when it's a government led response.Anwar Sadat, HelpAge International 
Nobody knows what will happen next. We need to be ready with anticipatory financing for disasters caused by climate change, but loss and damage should be given priority (…) The biggest learning is that the money for humanitarian aid for such a big disaster should come not as a loan, but from the loss and damage funds.” - Dr Shafqat Munir, Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad