UN Secretary-General announces World Humanitarian Summit

Today the UN Secretary-General announced that he will convene a global humanitarian summit in Istanbul in 2016, and the goal of this summit is to find new ways to tackle humanitarian needs in our fast-changing world. This three-year initiative is being managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

This initiative of the Secretary-General comes at an opportune time, with widespread recognition that the humanitarian landscape has changed tremendously over the past few decades, and that humanitarian action will need to continue to be more effective to keep pace with the rapidly changing context of emergencies and to meet the needs of millions of people. Global trends like climate change, rapid population growth, and technological advances are increasing the demand for more effective humanitarian action.

The number of actors involved in humanitarian action has also increased. Regional organizations, disaster-affected countries and their neighbouring countries continue to play an ever more prominent role in emergency response. Equally, the number of NGOs operating in emergencies has increased remarkably.


New kinds of actors have also emerged in recent years. More middle-income countries are becoming donors and first responders to emergencies. Militaries, diaspora and the private sector are also increasingly involved in humanitarian action.

New and emerging technologies such as social media and mobile phones mean that affected people can express their views and needs more immediately and with greater impact.

The Issues

The World Humanitarian Summit will focus on FOUR THEMATIC AREAS. These have been identified through discussions with governments, humanitarian actors, communities and other partners and will be refined further in the lead-up to the summit.

– The humanitarian community will need to work more

efficiently and effectively to meet growing and more complex needs with limited resources

and by working better together with the diverse actors involved in humanitarian action.

REDUCING VULNERABILITY AND MANAGING RISK – Humanitarian action is not optimally set up to help people and governments reduce their vulnerability to humanitarian crises. Governments, humanitarians and development actors need to work together to better anticipate humanitarian crises, act before they become catastrophes and prevent their recurrence.

TRANSFORMATION THROUGH INNOVATION – The humanitarian system needs to be better at adapting and improving to respond to more complex humanitarian needs. This will require looking beyond the current systems and processes, and exploring new technologies and partners to identify new tools, products and services.

SERVING THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE IN CONFLICT - The scale, intensity and duration of armed conflicts continue to displace millions of people and generate immense humanitarian needs. The humanitarian community needs to examine how to strengthen its capacity and work better with partners to provide principled humanitarian action in these contexts.

The road to the summit

To be a success, this initiative must represent the widest range of perspectives and experiences, and inputs are needed from everyone: governments, NGOs, the private sector, the public and, most importantly, people affected by humanitarian crises.

OCHA welcomes all partners – including you – to take part in the regional, global and online consultations starting in mid-2014. We want to hear from everyone how to improve humanitarian action and set an agenda to more effectively meet the needs of millions of people.

For more information how to get engaged please send an email to

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