I enjoyed moderating the opening session of the Emergency Show at the 2021 World Humanitarian Forum. Panelists Craig Fugate, Rupert Douglas-Bate, Paolo Garonna, and I explored the future of humanitarian response and how thinking needs to change. A clear theme was moving beyond the traditional donor country/recipient country relationship that fosters elitism. Instead, there were calls to acknowledge affected populations as a resource and deep listening to those communities to understand what they want and need.  “The community knows best,” said Fuguate.

Given the increasing effects of climate change and other disruptions, efforts need to move upstream to address unemployment and underemployment among the world’s youth, for example, said Douglas-Bate. Creating greater social cohesion and more robust economic conditions in communities before disaster hits is the best way to improve their chances of recovery after a incident.

Economist Garonna spoke of moving beyond thinking of trade-offs between economic considerations to focusing on virtuous circles that include the contributions of a broad range of stakeholders.

I have a passion for catalyzing honest conversations about significant issues with audiences who can do something about them. It was a pleasure to kick off this event with a provocative dialogue.