By Joseph Cook
The Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW) was a five-day conference held at the International Conference Centre of Geneva, hosted by the Swiss Government and co-chaired by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in early February 2017. The conference brought together professionals working within the humanitarian sector, private sector, governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and international organizations to share ideas, experiences, and recommendations on how best to address some of the challenges of the humanitarian sector today.
The events at the HNPW included discussions on civil-military coordination, disaster assessment and coordination response, airport efficiency and coordination, information management, conflict analysis, protecting diaspora populations, connecting businesses, humanitarian response in urban areas and much more. The Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator for OCHA Mr. Stephen O’Brien spoke at the opening ceremony of the conference, reaffirming the commitment of the organization he represents and the importance of addressing the needs of the most vulnerable. One of the highlights was the ‘Inter-Network Day’ which was held on the Wednesday of the conference. This included a variety of interactive sessions which enabled people to work in discussion and focus groups to address more specific challenges both at the field level as well as the strategic level.
Alongside these main events, the participants could also explore some stalls from different organizations such as the International Search and Rescue Group (INSARAG), Map Action, and Reliefweb as examples, picking up brochures and talking to their representatives. Throughout the week, the conference also held a ‘Speaker’s Corner’ which gave practitioners fifteen minutes to present on a variety of issues such as mine action in emergencies, disaster supply networks, and connecting businesses to improve local capacities.