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What does the future hold for humanitarians? Notes from the Futures Roundtable

February 11, 2015

Posted by in Blog.

Last November the Start Network was invited to participate in a Futures Roundtable, held at the Royal Society in London. This was planned as part of the consultation process for the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), but with a twist. It wasn’t just humanitarian practitioners sitting round the table, but a selection of experts from completely different sectors: the insurance industry, the technology sector, the research sciences.

The workshop was convened by one of our long-term partners, Randolph Kent of the Planning from the Future project at Kings College London, and UN OCHA. The future always excites us (it’s where all of us are going to live, after all) and so our own Sean Lowrie and Paul Currion agreed to co-facilitate the workshop. The results were interesting – and you can read a short report we’ve attached below – but what was more interesting was the process.

By bringing together participants with more diverse backgrounds than usual, the workshop was able to discuss issues and generate scenarios that had not previously been raised in WHS consultations. The workshop could have gone on for longer, but we were lucky to get these participants – all of whom told us they found the workshop very constructive – for a day and half. The future? We’re talking with Randolph about how to repeat the experience.

Read the summary report here, and contact us if you want to talk about the future…


Photo: Save the Children

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2 Responses

  1. David R.Curry

    The summary report raises interesting and important questions and trend lines — “atomization” and a shift from “state-model” governance. But it clearly is more a starting point than a set of actionable conclusions.

    The nominal time window is about right…out just beyond the SDGs…

    Might there have been any audio/video record made of these discussions? Might there be a longer term project for which this is a first step?

    Excellent investment of energies!


    David R Curry, MS
    Founding Director
    GE2P2 – Center for Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice
    Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Holistic Development :: Sustainable Resilience

  2. Paul Currion

    You’re right David – it’s definitely a starting point. We weren’t aiming for actionable conclusions in this event – it was an experiment to see whether blue-sky thinking could yield some interesting predictions. As such there wasn’t any audio / video (although I feel there should have been) but when we hold more events, we will make sure there is a richer set of documentation!

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