Why Planning from the Future?
Despite impressive growth and institutionalisation, the humanitarian system risks being outpaced by new threats and vulnerabilities linked to conflict, technological and so-called natural disasters. Its way of organising and taking decisions risks obsolescence as it struggles to adapt to the social and political changes spawned by globalisation.
Unless urgent steps are taken, humanitarian action will lose its relevance as a global system for saving and protecting the lives of at-risk populations.
What are the project's objectives?
The Planning from the Future project is intended to provide a guide for those responsible for dealing with ever more complex future humanitarian crises. In so doing, it intends to have a significant impact on the transformations under way in the humanitarian field.
Through its processes and products, the project should be able to influence the directions of those who are ‘non-traditional’ as well as traditional humanitarian actors to help them deal with a rapidly changing and potentially increasingly vulnerable world. It lays out the reasons and evidence for why the system needs to fundamentally change, and will suggest measures that will make it fit for an ever more complex, uncertain and, in many respects, unknown, future. In so doing, it draws upon the lessons of the past, captures the rapidly changing landscape of the present, and proposes ways to prepare for a world in which the types, dimensions and dynamics of threats that produce humanitarian needs will increase – in some instances, exponentially.
It is a project that is both original and timely. It comes at a time when those with humanitarian roles and responsibilities are reflecting on the changes that are required to enhance the current system’s effectiveness to respond to future challenges.
The 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016 clearly underscore the project's timeliness. The fact that within the academic and policy literature on humanitarian action, there is none that brings together the experiences of the past and present, and prepares the way for a paradigmatically different future is evidence of the project’s originality. In this regard, the project draws upon the extensive research of the three project partners- King’s College London, the Overseas Development Institute, and Tufts University.