ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL MEETING (ECOSOC)
On June 10, 2020, the AHA Centre’s Executive Director Ms. Adelina Kamal was engaged as a key panellist on the United Nations Economic and Social Council Meeting (ECOSOC) discussion on Improving humanitarian effectiveness through new technology and innovation: opportunities and challenges. The discussion was on the third day of the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment 2020, within which the panel discussed concrete examples of the humanitarian sector improving humanitarian effectiveness in a changing landscape through use of new technology and innovation.
The online panel was chaired by H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco and Vice-President of ECOSOC, and moderated by Mr. Ramesh Rajasingham, Acting Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator. Alongside Ms. Kamal from the AHA Centre, other panellists included: Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild, Under-Secretary-General for Digital Cooperation; Ms. Valerie Guarnieri, Assistant Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme; Mr. Balthasar Staehelin, Director of Digital Transformation and Data, International Committee of the Red Cross; Dr. Patrick Meier, CEO, WeRobotics, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; Mr. Raj Kumar, Founding President & Editor-in-Chief of Devex, and; Mr. Christopher Fabian, Senior Advisor on Innovation, UNICEF. Throughout the session all panellists showcased examples of new technology and innovation being used in humanitarian preparedness and response to improve the impact of humanitarian operations, as well as share best practices and lessons learned.
Alongside this, the panel also approached how the humanitarian sector is positioning itself to work with partners – including regional, national, and local actors, as well as the private sector – to identify and roll-out further opportunities. Speakers also identified numerous risks and challenges associated with new and emerging technologies, and discussed how these can be mitigated in the future. Challenges included data protection and protection against privacy breaches, the potential curtailment of personal liberties through the misuse of data, the spread of misinformation and disinformation, and the use of technology to stigmatize or incite tensions.
This engagement gave the AHA Centre yet another opportunity to lead the region on disaster management coordination with an array of international bodies, while also be actively involved in the continuing expansion of information and communication technology activities taking place within the global disaster management sector. The change, the innovation, and the importance of this subject was highlighted by H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale when he stated during his opening speech that:
“When I began my career in humanitarian affairs, it was mostly a process of contingency planning involving a small group of disaster managers and aid workers meeting and gathering around a flipchart with a handful of coloured marker pens. Today, humanitarians use Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics to more quickly and efficiently analyse and make decisions about how to respond to crisis.”
Written by : William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre