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The inaugural Humanitarian Xchange sparks fresh global dialogue for sector-wide change

The inaugural Humanitarian Xchange (HX24) event, held on 20 February in London, UK and online, marked a significant milestone in fostering global dialogue in the humanitarian sector.

Hosted by the Humanitarian Leadership Academy (HLA) in collaboration with founding co-partner Save the Children UK and event partner Brandfuel, HX24 aimed to cultivate a progressive and forward-thinking environment to address challenges in the humanitarian field and act as a catalyst for lasting change.

This unique free-to-attend global hybrid event reached full capacity, attracting 600 in-person and 5,000 online attendees representing a diverse range of local and international humanitarian organisations, government departments, industry, research and academia from 142 countries.

Images: Matt Sills

Conversations led by over 100 speakers delved into current and recurring challenges in the world through a range of workshops, panel and roundtable discussions interrogating the humanitarian ‘polycrises’; leadership in the humanitarian system; collaboration and partnerships; technology and data; and finance.

The resounding message of the day was one of hope, coupled with an urgent call to change – and to be the change.

In the opening keynote session, Humanitarianism Beyond the Horizon: Renewing Our Commitment to Humanity, Rachel O’Brien, HLA Director, said: “We need different ideas, we need a different humanitarian mindset and we need to be purposeful, progressive and hungry for the change we want to see, that we need to see.”

Following the welcome address, Maryam Nemazee (Al-Jazeera/Bloomberg International) took to the Xchange stage to invite perspectives on this discussion theme from a global hybrid panel: Baroness Amos (University College Oxford, former UK Secretary of State for International Development and UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs & Relief Coordinator), Hon. Abdiqafar Hange (Ministry of Finance, Federal Republic of Somalia), Sabrina Fernandes (Alameda Institute), Fiona Smith-Laittan (GSK), and Isaac Bencomo (One Young World).

Baroness Amos said:

“Now, a note of hope we’ve seen, despite the cost-of-living crisis, the challenges of COVID, that individual contributions in the face of crises and disasters have risen in some countries in the world. There is still a constituency out there and we need to tap into that constituency.

We need to help people see the benefits of tackling global inequality, of tackling food insecurity, of challenging human rights violations. We need to be inclusive and our agenda needs to be just. We need to demonstrate the limits of narrow nationalistic approaches and show the benefits of collective action. There are challenges ahead but I think if we share together the impact of those challenges and the analysis and cone together to think about the solutions, this is the way forward.”

Accessibility was a central consideration in HX24. Due to the innovative application of conferencing technology, global speakers and attendees alike were able to engage in the sessions in a seamless way, whether joining online or in-person at the Business Design Centre in London, UK.

A bespoke HX24 event website and mobile app enabled attendees to watch the live streamed sessions with the option for live captions in 50 languages, as well as to connect and network with fellow attendees.

Rachel O’Brien, HLA Director said:

“The HX’s purpose was to be a truly accessible event to bring all interested stakeholders together to enable a truly diverse and inclusive discourse and I was both humbled and genuinely excited by both the quantity of participants across the globe but also the quality of purposeful conversation.

What happens next is critical though and reminding ourselves why we are here; seeking change and taking risks needs to be part of our individual and collective endeavours.”

David Ball, Founder and Chairman of event partner Brandfuel Ltd said:

« It’s been an amazing launch. The Humanitarian Xchange Summit on Tuesday was the largest gathering of Humanitarians in the UK for over 50 years. The convening power of Save the Children UK and Humanitarian Leadership Academy is fully evident and their mission to inspire, train and resource one million new humanitarians is off to a great start.”

Mustafa Alokoud, Executive Director of Hope Revival Organisation in Türkiye, HX speaker and delegate said:

“I wanted to express my sincere appreciation to Humanitarian Leadership Academy and the entire team behind the Humanitarian Xchange event. The platform you provided for local actors and emerging leaders to engage in the sessions was invaluable, and I commend your commitment to inclusive dialogue.

I’m particularly interested in witnessing the tangible outcomes of these conversations. It’s clear that everyone involved is passionate about making a positive impact, and I have high hopes for the future.”

The HLA extends thanks to speakers, attendees, exhibitors, supporters and partners for making HX24 possible.

The recordings of the event sessions are available online for attendees to watch via the HX event website and app, providing a valuable resource for continued learning and engagement in humanitarian discussions.


Watch the highlights reel


HumanitarianXchange #HX24

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