Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, remarks at the opening of the Centre for Humanitarian Data


The Hague, the Netherlands, 22 December 2017

As prepared for delivery

Thank you to Minister Sigrid Kaag and her excellent team, and to Mayor Krikke and the municipality of The Hague, for hosting and supporting us here at the Centre for Humanitarian Data. We are also absolutely thrilled to do this with the Government of the Netherlands.

I am also pleased to see so many members of the UN family here, including Vitaly Vanshelboim of the UN Office for Project Services, who are a critical partner for us in the Centre as well as representatives of OCHA’s generous donors.

Historically, many millions of people across the planet have died in famines, floods, fighting and other disasters, without anyone elsewhere in the world ever knowing it was happening. Modern technology means that we can now see pretty much everything, everywhere, all the time.

When people see suffering, in other places, the natural human reaction is to want to help. With today’s technology, we have the chance to identify problems as they appear, predict what will happen next and organize an effective response. The potential for saving lives and reducing suffering is literally enormous.

In 2014, OCHA launched the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) to improve data sharing. HDX is now used in every active crisis around the world including Bangladesh, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan, and by users across some 165 countries. New organizations join HDX every week. Soon Facebook will become a member too, recognizing the values we attach to partnerships with business.

The Centre for Humanitarian Data is the next leg of this journey. Going far beyond HDX, it aims to use high quality data to identify and predict humanitarian problems. And then to enable responders to take action much faster, better, and more cheaply than is possible at the moment. One of the challenges then for the centre is to make sure it is doing more that is actionable.

I am also pleased that the Centre for Humanitarian Data is part of The Hague Humanity Hub. By creating an open workspace in which technology companies, academics, humanitarian groups and others can collaborate, the Hub will create a new kind of business model that befits the humanitarian challenges of the 21st century.

The mission of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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