UN Economic and Social Council UK statement on innovation as a driver of change

Thank you Moderator and to the panellists for an insightful and timely discussion.

Innovation in digital technologies is driving rapid change around the world. As a global leader in digital tech, the UK is committed to promoting the use of digital technology in humanitarian action. We think it will mean faster and cheaper support to those affected by crises. It could also be used in ways that might protect and empower people caught up in conflict.

The UK is using data analysis to drive better decision making to make sure limited funding is allocated in the most efficient way to prepare for, respond to and recover from crises. Using and improving the data we collect is a key element of how we are going to measure and deliver our policy goals, deliver new approaches and promote reform.

Through the UK Humanitarian Innovation Hub, the UK is investing in new digital technologies such as satellites and predictive analysis to provide greater insight and efficiency. But we are also working with to ensure the risks, ethics and legality of these technologies are fully considered and managed and we are mindful of data protection issues.

Whilst new technologies provide a range of opportunities, we all need to recognise and respond to the risk of an increasing “digital divide,” where digital technologies disempower local responders and provide greater accountability to donors but less to affected people themselves. Through Elrha and the Start Network, we are supporting local communities to develop their own innovations in emergency contexts.

The UK also recognises the importance of data transparency to ensure data is safely shared to promote better coordination and accountability – data should always be shared when safe to do so.

As with many aspects of humanitarian action, innovation is not as coordinated as it could be. Donors and agencies need to work together to consult with affected communities and agree collectively on priorities for research and innovation. We will then need to ensure we focus our efforts on those priorities.

With global humanitarian needs at an all-time high and expected to continue to rise during the next decade, the UK will focus on mobilising UK capabilities in science, technology and innovation – catalysing collaborations and lesson sharing in pursuit of transformative innovation. We will continue to fund innovation and high-quality research. Through our policies, programmes and research, the UK is committed to ensuring that data is collected, shared and analysed across all stages of the humanitarian cycle to ensure humanitarian responses are efficient, effective and accountable to affected people.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.