HomeThe CentreEvents 2023 Humanitarian Leadership Conference

About the conference

Re-engineering the global disaster response system

Reinvigorating change

The humanitarian system is no longer fit-for-purpose to deal with the scale and severity of crises in the 21st century.  Climate change, increasing fragility and conflict, and financial and economic crises are compounding disasters. System reform initiatives such as anticipatory action, the triple nexus, and resilient development have not led to transformational change. Progress towards decolonising aid, shifting the power and achieving the localisation agenda has stalled.

The 2023 Humanitarian Leadership Conference will investigate why the system is ‘stuck’ and will propose ambitious and pragmatic ways to reinvigorate change. It will explore answers to key questions: what needs to change, how, and who needs to drive the change; across four key areas: funding for crisis response, organisational modelsmandates and motivations.

Building on momentum from the 2021 Humanitarian Leadership Conference, which explored ‘Who are the humanitarians?’ this ambitious event will reunite key actors – local, national, international and global – to deliver a better global disaster response system fit for the world in 2050.


Enhanced accessibility: a Conference for all people working in disaster response

Following a successful digital-first event in 2021; the 2023 Conference will be hosted online, this time over three days, with the final day continuing online with optional in-person workshops, meetings, and a closing function in Melbourne, Australia.

Our new conference platform, Cvent, allows participants to select from one of 22 global languages when registering for the event and participating online.

Apply now to participate

We are now calling for applications to present at the conference, with abstracts to align with one of four themes:

  • Money
  • Mandates
  • Models
  • Motivations

See the ‘Themes’ tab at the top of this page for more information about the Themes.

See the ‘Get involved’ tab for details about how to apply to participate at the Conference.

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Conference themes

The Conference will explore the how to re-engineer the global response system through the lens of four sub-themes:


Currently, there is not enough money in the system to pay for the overwhelming amount of assistance necessary to respond to disasters – why? How can we change where the money comes from and the form in which it is provided to enable timely assistance at the scale required?


Every organisation that responds to a crisis has its own mandate, and many have very similar mandates – is this the best way forward? Who are the legitimate actors with the mandate to respond (or support the response) in the eyes of those affected by disasters?


What are the advantages and disadvantages of the organisational models that dominate the global disaster response system? How could different organisational models enable better responses?


How do we change the incentive structures of the current global disaster response system to better encourage a more inclusive, respectful, empowering, and resourced system?

Download the full Sub Theme Briefing Document.

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Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers will be announced in coming months. Keep checking this page for more details.

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Get Involved

Apply now to present

Applications to participate in the 2023 Humanitarian Leadership Conference are now open. We’re calling for proposals from all people – from all contexts and types of organisations – involved in the humanitarian and disaster response sector who want to join the conversation about re-engineering the system for 2050.

The application deadline has been extended until January 13, 2023.

Conference submissions

Conference submissions should include:

  • The key humanitarian, development or disaster response issue/s and background (e.g. highlighting a specific disaster, crisis, conflict, political economy, organisation, network, etc.)
  • Why the issue persists, generally or in specific contexts
  • Proposed solutions to begin resolving the issue (including enablers, removing of barriers, political and/or technical support, etc.)
  • Any specific examples, especially ones which highlight progress or lessons learned

Submissions should focus on any one of, or combination of, the four key themes of the conference (money, models, mandates, and motivations).

Applications must be submitted via our event platform, Cvent, by January 13, 2023.

Submit your application

Conference Registrations

Registrations for the 2023 Conference will open in January/February 2023. Keep checking this page for details.

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Partner with us

Partner with us to help deliver the 2023 Conference

Sponsorship of the 2023 Humanitarian Leadership Conference presents a unique opportunity to gain exposure to a global humanitarian audience, to share innovative solutions, and build new connections and alliances in the global disaster response and international humanitarian system.

The Centre is looking to partner with like-minded organisations to deliver an event which creates real impact, by convening leaders from around the world to discuss, debate and challenge the status quo; and to formulate solutions for creating a global disaster response system fit for the world in 2050.

Download the Sponsorship Prospectus [PDF]

To inquire about Sponsorship Packages, please email events@cfhl.org.au 

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