World Humanitarian Summit - Business Consultation on Innovation, San Francisco, 27-28 May 2015

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The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) is an initiative of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Kimoon.
The WHS seeks to map out a new approach to humanitarian action that is better attuned to the realities of the 21st century. The summit aims to make humanitarian action more inclusive, diverse, global, and effective. In the lead-up to the summit, regional and global discussions will take place to identify how partners who are currently engaged in this work but who fall outside the current definition of “humanitarian” can be better involved. These consultations will also result in practical deliverables and help to promote the role of the private sector in humanitarian action.
The Business Consultation on Innovation aimed to identify ways to maximize the power of innovation and technology through greater public-private collaboration in emergencies. The Bay Area is one of the world’s leading innovation hubs, bringing forth creative technical solutions that bear enormous potential for emergency response. Challenges in the areas of communication, humanitarian financing, or data collection and analysis require innovative solutions. The consultation helped identify needs and possibilities as well as link humanitarian actors with the business community.


The World Humanitarian Summit Business Consultation on Innovation was organized by UN OCHA and UNICEF. Kind support was provided by Airbnb by hosting the event on their premises and by Visa in hosting a cocktail reception to highlight innovative solutions the evening before the consultation.

Participants were representatives from companies in the technology and innovation sector, mainly located in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as several UN agencies and NGOs. During the evening reception, innovative solutions to emergency response by private sector companies were highlighted in a panel discussion, featuring examples from Cisco, Facebook, LinkedIn and Visa. The consultation was held as a half-day session and commenced with a general overview over the opportunities and challenges arising in the context of the development of new technologies and their application during emergencies. A plenary session on operational constraints, identifying challenges in the areas of infrastructure and connectivity as well as coordination among participants was then followed by two breakout sessions. The first breakout session outlined potential partnership models for successful collaborations between the UN and the private sector. The second breakout session laid a focus on the emerging need to adequately invest in humanitarian R&D financing and aimed to explore ways to fund innovations in the humanitarian field.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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