Our long-term Strategy defines our work until 2040 and sees us radically focus our vision and raise our ambition for the role of research and innovation in the humanitarian system. It sets out how we’ll work with our community to realise its potential in humanitarian response, and how we’ll capture the real change and improvements to the lives of people affected by crisis.
It’s about sustained action to support the emergence of a collective vision for humanitarian research and innovation. A vision where they are no longer on the periphery of humanitarian practice - but central to it.
Read our strategy booklet in full or explore the interactive pages below.
When Elrha was established in 2009 there were very few actors dedicated to supporting humanitarian action through research and innovation. We have come a long way since those early years.
As an organisation we have matured and grown, and so has the sector we work in. There are now thousands of humanitarian research and innovation projects across the world. This expansion is welcome, but with it comes the responsibility to demonstrate impact. As a sector we must be able to show that investment in humanitarian research and innovation delivers real improvements in the lives of people affected by crises.
Year-on-year we see humanitarian needs rise, while resources fail to keep up. Multiple, complex and protracted crises are driving unmet needs into the hundreds of millions, while climate breakdown and a turbulent geo-political outlook cause even the most optimistic of us to feel concern for the future.
The humanitarian system finds itself responding to the challenges of today with the tools of yesterday. The pace of change is too slow. The ability of the system to adapt and respond to opportunities and incorporate new approaches and technologies is under-realised.
It is inconceivable that the change that’s needed can be delivered without a wholehearted alliance between the humanitarian community and scientists, researchers and innovators. Yet research and innovation continue to be on the periphery of humanitarian practice. Investments are small-scale, fragmented, short-term and lacking in ambition.
What’s more, deep inequities in power and funding characterise our community as much as they do the wider humanitarian system we work within.
We must do better.
The time is now to prove our relevance. It’s time to radically focus our vision and raise our ambition for the role of research and innovation in the humanitarian system. It’s time for real change.
This can’t happen overnight. It needs sustained collective action. And that’s why we’re launching our Strategy, which defines our work until 2040. It’s why we are committed to working collaboratively with humanitarian actors, governments, the research and innovation communities, alongside people affected by crises, to support the emergence of a collective vision for humanitarian research and innovation.
Elrha has been at the forefront of humanitarian research and innovation for more than a decade. We have pioneered new approaches in the sector that have enabled research and innovation to deliver meaningful impact on humanitarian challenges. We have built extensive global networks and championed responsible and ethical approaches that have produced research of the highest quality in some of the most challenging contexts in the world. And we have led the way in funding innovation that goes beyond the application of new technologies, demonstrating that innovative thinking and approaches can address the socially complex lived challenges that people face during crisis.
Under our Strategy we will continue our work as a responsible funder of research and innovation in the humanitarian system. And we’ll use our funding and expertise to take on more ambitious challenges, utilising our unique networks to create long-term research and innovation collaborations that bring about lasting solutions to critical humanitarian challenges.
But we don’t only want to increase the role of research and innovation in humanitarian action. In everything we do, we want to contribute to a more equitable system. Because we know that research and innovation that responds to and is driven by the needs and priorities of those directly affected by crises will deliver more meaningful and sustainable impact.
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:
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.
Humanity is capable of the most astonishing feats when there’s a supportive environment for transformational ideas. There can be no more urgent priority for humanity than addressing humanitarian need. We hope that, with committed collective action, we can overcome the seemingly intractable challenges that have created and perpetuated humanitarian crises.
A global organisation that finds solutions to complex humanitarian problems through research and innovation.
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.
We are a leading actor in humanitarian research and innovation. We bring people together to tackle some of the most complex problems and strengthen the humanitarian system. And we support and champion robust research and proven innovations to improve humanitarian response.
We want to see the positive impact of our research and innovation in acute phases of emergencies and in complex and protracted conflict settings where it’s most needed, including work with IDP, refugee and host community populations.
We live by a clear set of values. They’re seen in our work within the humanitarian system and in how we operate and hold ourselves accountable as individuals and as an organisation and employer.
We are committed to being a truly inclusive and empathetic organisation that supports, encourages and recognises its people. We seek out and value diverse knowledge, experience and perspectives, listening to understand before we act. We believe people and communities affected by crises should be deeply involved in research and innovation processes, driving the changes they want to see.
We collaborate to bring about positive change. We build meaningful partnerships, investing in and nurturing our networks and creating space for open and honest dialogue. We understand the part we play in improving humanitarian response and we invite people to join our efforts, supporting others to lead where they are better placed to do so.
We’re a responsible and principled organisation to our core. We champion ethical approaches in humanitarian research and innovation, calling out practices that fall short and partnering only with organisations that share our commitment. We make decisions based on the best available evidence. We listen to and act on feedback, and we take accountability for our actions.
We’re always looking to develop ourselves and our work; it makes us better at what we do and more effective in what we achieve. We are evidence-led in our decisions and actions. We take on board different views and ideas that will help shape the future of humanitarian response. This appetite for learning and for discussion, reflection and recognition of achievement is engrained in our culture and our practices.
We’re ambitious in our vision for the future of humanitarian action. Positive, energetic, undaunted, we’re committed to long-term investment in research and innovation that will deliver transformative change for people affected by crises. We generate momentum, motivating others to work with us and to support the positive differences we make.
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