Our vision: By 2040, critical humanitarian problems are effectively addressed through long-term, focused and collective research and innovation efforts that are well-resourced, coordinated and equitable.
The space and demand for research and innovation within the humanitarian system has been growing. But there remain deep structural barriers that are limiting the impact of our work.
Research and innovation investment is heavily fragmented. There are broken pathways to uptake, and duplication in investments. And serious inequality in funding flows means that funding and decision-making power remains in the hands of actors from high-income countries, far from where humanitarian crises are experienced.
Short-term funding cycles remain dominant in our funding culture. Over the years this has led to a plethora of projects at the early stage of innovation processes and research projects that produce results that are specific and difficult to replicate.
For research and innovation to deliver greater impact, there needs to be predictable and reliable funding that supports long-term collaborative partnerships. Because these are the partnerships that can find, test and run with ideas, taking them from early concept through to widespread adoption. They’re partnerships that allow for greater ambition in the scope of research and innovation. They build shared ownership of problems and generate appetite for the development and uptake of new evidence and solutions.
There is urgent need to build better research and innovation funding pathways and programmes – ones that support locally-led action and that invest in sustainable research and innovation capacity in regions vulnerable to crisis. Alongside this we must develop new knowledge and skills to support responsible practice. Many of the research and innovation approaches used in the humanitarian system are adapted from the private and public sectors and are not always a good fit for the unique challenges and vulnerabilities that humanitarian crises create. For our practice to evolve, we need to develop approaches and knowledge that have been designed and tested for our unique contexts and communities.
use our research and innovation funding to deliver robust solutions to priority needs, working hard to ensure that positive differences are made for people affected by crises.
support ‘end-to-end’ research and innovation pathways.
work with humanitarian actors to improve the incorporation of evidence and solutions into standards, policies and humanitarian practice at national and global levels.
invest in the development of knowledge, skills and practices, to help our sector evolve.
For research and innovation to deliver greater impact, there needs to be predictable and reliable funding that supports long-term collaborative partnerships.
Our vision: By 2040, long-term funding commitments and a globally recognised coordination system for humanitarian research and innovation are in place that are equitable and effective at delivering improvements in humanitarian response to acute and complex crises.
We believe that research and innovation must deliver greater impact in acute and complex crises where humanitarian needs are greatest. These contexts demand the highest standards of care and responsibility; research and innovation must be ethical, appropriate and responsive to needs. To successfully address the most challenging humanitarian problems, there needs to be deep commitment from research and innovation actors and funders to listen to and coordinate with communities affected by crises and with humanitarian actors.
The humanitarian system has all the necessary components to drive a responsive and coordinated approach to research and innovation, but hasn’t yet joined them up. As a community, we’re falling short of our potential because:
But there is every reason to be positive. Our research shows there is strong demand for improved coordination on research and innovation at every level of the humanitarian system. If we achieve this – and we are confident that we can – our efforts as a community will have far greater impact.
We’ll achieve more with the resources we have. Our open, inclusive and cohesive system will allow actors from outside the traditional humanitarian community to more effectively participate, bringing their expertise and capabilities to bear on the issues we care about.
Ultimately, our efforts will demonstrate that research and innovation can improve humanitarian action; helping save more lives, reduce suffering, and support the dignified recovery of people affected by crises.
This Strategy will help us get there, by strengthening the systems that support research and innovation within humanitarian practice and identifying and challenging inequities of power that hold back our sector’s potential.
work to bring actors together from across the system to co-develop mechanisms that support us all to be more strategic and impactful.
generate new data to track the performance of humanitarian research and innovation and inform effective priority setting.
work to create greater equity throughout the system by building stronger relationships with regional and national coordination bodies and actors in low- and middle-income countries.
There is strong demand for improved coordination on research and innovation at every level of the humanitarian system.
You can also read, download and share our strategy in full as an online booklet.
Access the the full strategy.
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