Future Humanitarian Financing is an initiative to bring fresh thinking and expertise from beyond the humanitarian sector to address the growing problem of how to meet the financial costs of responding to humanitarian crises.


Traditional approaches to financing humanitarian response are falling increasingly short of the mark. The financing gap in the UN’s Humanitarian Appeal has widened considerably in the last five years and in 2014, the humanitarian system is under extreme strain responding to a growing number of major crises. The future looks set to continue to stretch existing humanitarian response capacities as a changing climate and growing population contribute to increased human vulnerability to disasters.


  • By 2050 the world population will have grown to 9.6 billion. Most of this growth will occur in developing regions, which are projected to increase from 5.9 billion in 2013 to 8.2 billion in 2050.
  • The number of people living in urban areas will reach 6.3 billion by 2050.
  • By 2050 global demand for food is expected to have increased by 70%.
  • By 2030, 47% of world population will be living in areas of high water stress.
  • Extreme precipitation events over mid-latitude and tropical regions will very likely become more intense and more frequent by 2100, contributing to increased ­flooding.
  • Droughts will intensify in some seasons and areas.
  • The number of people exposed to coastal fl­ooding in Asia will increase by 50 per cent by 2030.


World Humanitarian Data and Trends 2013, (OCHA, 2014)

Reforming the existing system is not enough:

During the last decade, humanitarians have worked hard to reform the existing financing architecture, including introducing new mechanisms – such as the global Central Emergency Response Fund – to enable a more rapid, flexible and efficient financing response. New sources of funding are also being leveraged, notably from private donors and governments outside of the OECD. But these changes alone will not keep pace with demand and many humanitarian actors recognise that a more radical re-think of how we finance humanitarian action is overdue.






Humanitarian action must adapt to a changing world:

Where humanitarian action takes place, the cast of responding actors and methods of response are changing fast. Humanitarian response is increasingly likely to take place in cities and in middle-income countries and domestic actors – civil society, the private sector and governments – are playing greater roles in financing and delivering response. At the global level, the private sector and non-traditional institutional and private donors are contributing to humanitarian action with new approaches. New technologies are also helping to improve the speed, effectiveness and accountability of response as well as broadening participation in financing humanitarian action. To meet the challenges of the future humanitarians will need to take advantage of the opportunities these developments present. In order to do this, we need new ideas, collaborations, approaches, tools and resources.


Future Humanitarian Financing will attempt to stimulate adaptive change in financing humanitarian action by harnessing creative thinking, new models and approaches emerging within and beyond the sector. The initiative will bring together experts and innovators from diverse backgrounds including financial services, public sector management, marketing, science, information and communication technology in a series of dialogues designed to investigate new and emerging approaches to humanitarian financing. The dialogues will also consider what investments and adjustments are needed to adapt for the future.

The dialogues will take place in late October to November 2014 in London, Amman, Bangkok and Dakar with a final synthesis dialogue in Geneva. The first dialogue in London will draw on experts from one of the world’s leading financial capitals to consider emerging models from the private sector such as social impact investment, social enterprise and risk transfer.  The outcomes of each dialogue will be recorded and used to stimulate further discussion and produce recommendations and innovative solutions to address the growing problem of how we meet the financial costs of responding to humanitarian crises.


The dialogues will bring people and ideas together to inspire creative thinking, spark new connections and explore new and emerging models of financing humanitarian action. This will produce recommendations and innovations that will be followed up to enable application in the near future. We also want the dialogues to inform a more radical reform agenda by contributing to the longer-term evolution of the humanitarian sector that will be explored at the UN Secretary General’s World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016. Exploring new and emerging models of financing humanitarian action which could be employed in the next few years will provide practical and applicable solutions to the current issues of humanitarian funding and also influence how the sector evolves to better meet the needs of people affected by humanitarian crises.  The outcomes of the dialogues will be packaged and communicated to influential policy-makers and will also feed directly into the Humanitarian Effectiveness and Innovation work-streams of the WHS.


The Future Humanitarian Financing Initiative hopes to harness a wide variety of expertise from within and beyond the humanitarian sectors and intends to bring together those who can offer different and unique perspectives on the issues financing humanitarian action. You can register your interest in the dialogue events following the link below and join the online dialogue through this online platform and by following us on twitter @futurehf .



FUTURE HUMANITARIAN FINANCING is led by a Steering group comprising CAFOD, FAO and World Vision on behalf of the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) task-team on humanitarian financing. The dialogues in Jordan and Bangkok will be hosted by the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) and in Dakar by Groupe URD.


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