Think Tank (6/2022)
Speakers and participants at the RSIS-RHCC Humanitarian Futures Forum
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RSIS-RHCC Humanitarian Futures Forum
14 Oct 2022

The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies and the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre (Changi RHCC) jointly hosted the Humanitarian Futures Forum on 14 October 2022. The third in a series of events on humanitarian futures since March 2021, the forum aimed to strengthen support systems for policy planners and decision-makers preparing for and responding to humanitarian challenges. It brought together nearly 100 local and overseas participants from the military, government agencies, academia, civil society, and the private sector.

Crises in the next decade and beyond are predicted to grow significantly in magnitude and frequency, aggravated by technological, socio-economic, and geopolitical factors at regional and global levels. Such possibilities give rise to the need to transform humanitarian action. Apart from addressing immediate humanitarian concerns and drawing from past experiences, an anticipatory and adaptive approach would be required to prepare for future humanitarian scenarios that will likely see the concurrence or interface of different hazards at higher intensity and frequency. Organisations with humanitarian roles and responsibilities would need to develop new mindsets, expertise, capacities and partnerships to deal with future crises.

Southeast Asia, like the rest of the planet, faces interconnected and complex threats that often go beyond the geographical region where they initially occur. As Southeast Asia aims to realise the ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management, and as the world strives to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it would be important to examine how the region (especially the actors with humanitarian roles and responsibilities) could better prepare for future complex crises.

During the forum, the major changes needed for the region to cope with humanitarian futures by 2030 and beyond were explored. Insights into humanitarian action during the COVID-19 pandemic in different disaster scenarios, and the role of international cooperation in the Philippines, Myanmar, and Tonga, were also reviewed. Other focus areas included the use and abuse of technologies and innovation (such as artificial intelligence, mis/disinformation, and space technology) in the humanitarian context. The aim was to identify the major opportunities and challenges in their application.

The panel sessions and roundtable discussions enabled the participants to exchange views and share perspectives in response to the topics. The forum also provided time for networking between the participants and represented sectors.

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