Humanitarian Action Challenge organizers share sense of urgency

The Humanitarian Action Challenge kicked off in October. The initiative aims to break new ground in terms of forging multi-disciplinary collaboration for peace, justice, and humanitarian action. It is a joint effort by HumanityX, The Hague Humanity Hub and ImpactCity. We checked in with the program organizers to hear more about the rationale behind the program, as well as their hopes and expectations.

“‘We have to get better in believing the impossible’ is one of my favorite Kevin Kelly quotes,” says ImpactCity’s Mariken Gaanderse to pinpoint what, to her, is the essence of the program. “Humanitarian innovation can save lives and is able to empower people in crisis.”

She continues, “This is not an easy job and cannot be done alone. I staunchly believe that walls have to be broken down to truly collaborate if we want to create impact at scale. Not just for the sake of innovation but for the sake of empowering people.”

Taking advantage of tech

HumanityX’s Thomas Baar adds, “To date, there is limited reflection on the need for innovation in the peace, justice and humanitarian sectors. Often, relevant insights aren’t captured and lessons learned aren’t shared. That’s why the Humanitarian Action Challenge aims to encourage sharing and learning around the important theme of humanitarian innovation”.

Jill Wilkinson, managing director at The Hague Humanity Hub, stresses the added value of the program’s tech component. “Because technology can offer new solutions to challenges in the peace and justice domain, the actors involved need to adapt and innovate. They need to take advantage of what tech can offer,” she says.

A sense of flow

The first two days of intensive workshops took place at The Hague Humanity Hub in October. “I was touched by the teams’ openness to feedback,” Mariken reflects. “The participants were really able to adapt their perspective and, as such, discovered new ways to address their challenges.”

Jill chips in, “It was awesome to see the teams in action. All of the program’s ingredients—people, process, environment, content—came together. A sense of flow was tangible all around.”

A greater purpose

The Humanitarian Action Challenge was initiated and organized jointly by HumanityX, The Hague Humanity Hub, and the City of The Hague’s ImpactCity program. “The Humanitarian Action Challenge connects three thriving communities in The Hague—ImpactCity, The Hague Humanity Hub, and HumanityX. Each puts forward its own strengths and expertise,” Mariken says.

“I believe this combination offers all the necessary ingredients to make an impact, for the participants in this Humanitarian Action Challenge and for the challenge owners, but most importantly, for the people that are subject to humanitarian crisis around the world,” she emphasizes the greater purpose of the program.

Excited to be involved

Thomas explains, “HumanityX supports organizations in the peace, justice and humanitarian sectors to adopt digital innovations in order to increase their societal impact. As such, we aim to develop processes through which we can develop and test innovative ideas and help translate their potential into practice”.

“We make a point of emphasizing the need to experiment responsibly. This means always taking into account the potential ethical and societal consequences of an innovation. Sharing and learning around these processes is key here,” he says. “Our involvement in the Humanitarian Action Challenge serves these purposes perfectly.”

“The Hague Humanity Hub was created to support the growing local community of innovators in peace, justice and humanitarian to have more impact in the world,” Jill describes the rationale behind its founding. “We are proud to host this initiative and create valuable connections within our ecosystem. This will help increase the impact of the award-winning innovations.”

Good business

Mariken summarizes the City of The Hague’s motive, “In The Hague, we firmly believe that economic success and social impact go hand in hand. We see a growing community of new entrepreneurs stepping onto the stage who are truly aware of how they want to make a positive impact in the world. They do business and do good—by definition”.

“We want to foster these impact entrepreneurs and create the conditions for social and humanitarian innovations to happen and to accelerate. We want to connect the different international networks in our city and act as a catalyst for new connections, new collaborations, and new partnerships to create impact at scale,” she sums up.