Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

A global organisation that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation..
Our purpose is clear: we work in partnership with a global community of humanitarian actors, researchers and innovators to improve the quality of humanitarian action and deliver better outcomes for people affected by crises.
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As a member of the international humanitarian community, we recognise the legacy of our sector and that, as an influential, UK-based organisation, we hold a position of power and privilege that others do not. We hold ourselves accountable to be part of the change that must come and to live up to our responsibilities to those affected by crises.

So, we’re making three long-term commitments:

  • Become an anti-racist organisation
  • Be climate responsible
  • Shift the power

These commitments formalise the things we believe in and the direction we’re taking. They’ll continue to shape our development as people and as an organisation. And they’ll help us take even greater strides towards building a better humanitarian community.

We are committed to being an anti-racist organisation.

Commitment to anti-racism

We are committed to being an anti-racist organisation. Racism has no place in the international aid and humanitarian system, in work, in the world.

Deep-rooted inequalities in the global aid system are replicated in humanitarian research and innovation practices. As part of that system, we could be part of the problem. We know that conscious and unconscious racism can be present in every aspect of our work, from the expertise we choose to engage with or the way we review funding applications, to our recruitment and recognition of our staff and governing bodies.

That’s why, as part of this Strategy, we are making a long-term commitment to consciously and continuously consider how racism may affect our culture, working practices and decision-making, and to learn from others about how we can proactively address this.

This isn’t a new direction for us. We began our journey towards becoming an anti-racist organisation in 2020, by setting out six, core commitments.

We will:

  • be an anti-racist employer and workplace.
  • collaborate with the sector and our partners to promote an anti-racism approach.
  • consider how our work in research and innovation can support an anti-racism agenda.
  • weave anti-racism into the fabric of our brand and communications.
  • nurture an environment of listening, learning, and unlearning racism.
  • develop clear and specific next steps through a detailed action plan to make anti-racism a fundamental and sustainable part of our ethos and work.

These commitments remain a firm priority for us all and we’ll continue to closely monitor our compliance and progress. There isn’t one ‘neat’ pathway forward; eliminating racism in all its forms is an enduring responsibility. But it’s one we take on with openness and dedication, because we know we have to make a positive difference. We’ll keep asking ourselves and others how we can do better.

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Becoming an anti-racist organisation

We are committed to being an anti-racist organisation. This involves an honest examination of how our work reinforces existing inequity, and proactively working with others to address structural and systemic racism in our sector. We are not yet where we need to be. But, we have developed a set of strategic commitments to anti-racism and are working on our detailed action plan to realise these as an organisational priority.

We want to see a more equitable and effective humanitarian research and innovation system.

Commitment to shifting the power

We want to see a more equitable and effective humanitarian research and innovation system that leads to better, locally informed, and culturally appropriate response for people affected by crises.

The humanitarian community has so much potential but could benefit from greater inclusion and cohesion. There is an imbalance in voice and power. There are financial inequities in the humanitarian research and innovation ecosytem; money flows largely from donors in higher income countries to the institutions headquartered in higher income countries. Actors with global reach are favoured by research and innovation opportunities that (understandably) incentivise scalable solutions and evidence that can be applied in different contexts. And, too often, local humanitarian actors with expertise and knowledge of local priorities, and researchers and innovators from low- and middle-income countries, are marginalised in, or excluded from, global research and innovation. That’s despite recognition that contextual expertise and relationships with local policy, practice and community stakeholders are essential for the uptake and sustainability of research and innovation.

This situation is counterproductive to efforts to improve the lives and wellbeing of people affected by crises. It’s driven us to commit to shifting the power, by seeking out more inclusive and equitable models of research and innovation and community-led innovations. We’ll work towards creating greater equity in our own work and in the broader system of humanitarian research and innovation.

As we do this, we’ll focus on our:

  • strategy, organisation, and partnerships;
  • programme design and funding allocations;
  • communications and messaging.

Transforming the humanitarian system into something far more fair, transparent and dynamic requires us to show agility, commitment and accountability in everything we do. And we’ll do this because of the benefits to be gained from a humanitarian ecosystem that fulfills its potential in mitigating the impact of humanitarian crises. We’ll do it because maintaining the status quo isn’t an option.

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We want to help minimise the impact of human-induced climate change on the world’s most vulnerable people.

Commitment to being climate and environmentally responsible

We want to help minimise the impact of human-induced climate change on the world’s most vulnerable people, as part of an environmentally responsible international system.

The human-induced climate crisis is threatening the survival of millions of people across the world. It’s leading to unprecedented increases in natural disasters, extreme weather events, greater transmission of diseases and infections, and unsustainable changes in human migration patterns.

As a member of the humanitarian community, we recognise the heavy environmental impact of our international aid system. We are part of the problem that creates the humanitarian need to which we respond. No-one working in humanitarian action wants this to be the case. And it will take conscious, committed and collective action to turn this around.

As a community that strives to mitigate the impact of humanitarian crises, we must consider how our work and the way we do it might contribute to the degradation of environments and the worsening climate situation. This is partly about each of us doing the little things, day-to-day, with individual and collective responsibility in mind. It’s also about building climate and environmental considerations into every aspect of our organisational practices and into the way we fund and support research and innovation. Part of this responsibility is to recognise that the solutions that our research and evidence contribute to may inadvertently lead to harm if they’re not adapted to climate-induced changes, such as weather patterns, disease transmission and livelihood viability. We must ask ourselves if the advances we make and the new technologies we discover are kind to our climate and our environment.

In this Strategy, we are making a firm commitment to becoming a climate and environmentally responsible organisation. Central to this is the Climate and Environment Charter for Humanitarian Organisations (, which will guide us towards better practices as a workforce and as part of the humanitarian community.

We stand with our local, national and international humanitarian peers to take urgent actions to minimise the greenhouse gas emissions that come directly or indirectly from our organisational activities. We will factor the impact of climate change into our research and innovation, so that the outcomes and effects of this work don’t cause harm. And we’ll carefully monitor our progress in meeting climate responsibility targets, sharing this openly with our community and encouraging others to join the effort.

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