HomeThe CentreEvents 2019 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference

About the conference

Humanitarian Leadership and the Future of Humanitarian Action

The 2019 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference will bring together leading humanitarian thinkers from around the world for three days of plenary sessions, panels, presentations and networking opportunities.

Participants will critically reflect on the challenges facing good leadership in the humanitarian space and the future of humanitarian action in the Asia Pacific and fragile states.

The key themes that the conference will explore are:

  • Humanitarian leadership in a shifting system
  • The future of humanitarian action
  • Climate change and leadership
  • Localisation

The program includes over 25 separate sessions where delegates will hear from over 60 international and national speakers. Our keynote speakers will present in morning plenaries, and the afternoon sessions will be held across four breakout rooms.

Keynote Speakers

We are proud to announce our keynote speakers

  • Per Heggenes – CEO, IKEA Foundation
  • Degan Ali  – Executive Director, Adeso and founder of NEAR
  • Dr Hugo Slim – Head of Policy, International Committee of the Red Cross; and
  • Lilian (Lan) Mercado – Asia Regional Director, Oxfam

Find out more about our conference keynote speakers in the speakers tab.

Our attendees are humanitarian practitioners, academics, researches and stakeholders from government, NGOs and the private sector. This is a truly international conference and our delegate list already includes nationals from over 15 countries.

Networking opportunities include an informal welcome reception on Wednesday evening; and the official conference dinner on Thursday night will be held under the iconic Spire at the Victorian Arts Centre. Both are included in the conference registration.

The program is currently being finalised and will be available on this website on the 17th April 2019.

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Keynote Speakers

We are proud to announce our keynote speakers.

  • Per Heggenes

    Chief Executive Officer, IKEA Foundation

    Per Heggenes is the CEO of the IKEA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies. As CEO, Per sets and drives the Foundation’s funding and innovation strategies, and is a tireless advocate for children living in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since becoming the Foundation’s first CEO in 2009, Per has presided over the Foundation’s evolution into a global, grant-making philanthropy that funds programs in more than 35 countries. In 2012, Per was appointed to the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children by UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who created the commission to increase access to lifesaving medicines and health supplies for the world’s most vulnerable people. Previously, Per was the Global Head of Corporate Affairs for the shipping and logistics company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. Before joining WWL, he was the UK President and CEO for the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and Co-CEO for Europe. He also held different global roles for Burson-Marsteller based in their New York headquarters. Per served in the Norwegian Air Force and graduated from the University of Augsburg in Germany with a “Diplom Oekonom” (MBA).

  • Degan Ali

    Executive Director, Adeso

    Adeso recognised early on the interconnection between humanitarian crisis and environmental degradation and climate change and is a leader in advocating for strong policies to reduce the negative impact of environmental degradation and climate change, and environmental justice, both in Somalia and around the globe. Adeso also pioneered cash transfers as the most effective, timely, and dignified means of delivering aid to vulnerable populations. Under Degan Ali’s leadership, Adeso has become a pioneer in conducting innovative humanitarian and development programming. Degan Ali is a passionate advocate at the global level on the mainstreaming of cash as the primary response mechanism to humanitarian crisis. She sees cash as not only an efficient and less costly response tool, but also as a more dignified aid response that gives power to affected people to make decisions based on their needs. Degan believes that cash transfers have many positive multiplier effects including boosting economies in affected communities. Under Degan’s leadership, the first large-scale cash transfer program led by NGOs was successfully implemented in Somalia in response to the famine of 2011. This paved the way for the large-scale use of cash transfers in the Syrian crisis and continues to grow as the primary response tool around the globe, including the rise of new technology to digitise monetary transfers and the use of mobile money infrastructure. Degan founded NEAR, the first global south civil society network advocating for the transformation of humanitarian and development aid architecture, which launched in Istanbul at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. In more recent years, Degan’s advocacy efforts focus on challenging the power dynamics of humanitarian response and creating equitable solutions, such as the direct financing of local actors in the global south.

  • Dr Hugo Slim

    Head of Policy, International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva

    Before joining ICRC in 2015, Hugo was Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) at the University of Oxford where he led research on humanitarian ethics and the protection of civilians. Hugo has combined a career between academia and practice. He was Chief Scholar at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue from 2003–07 and Reader in International Humanitarianism at Oxford Brookes University from 1994–2003. Between 1983 and 1994, Hugo worked for Save the Children and the United Nations in Morocco, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Bangladesh. He received his PhD in humanitarian ethics from Oxford Brookes University in 2002. His most recent books are Humanitarian Ethics: A Guide to the Morality of Aid in War and Disaster (2015 Hurst/OUP) and Killing Civilians: Method, Madness and Morality in War (2007 Hurst/OUP).

  • Lan Mercado

    Lilian (Lan) Mercado

    Asia Regional Director for Oxfam

    Lan Mercado is an activist and is the Asia Regional Director for Oxfam. She oversees a portfolio that spans 14 countries and multi-country and regional programmes including advocacy and campaigns. In Asia, Oxfam is focused on addressing inequalities and vulnerabilities in a region that boasts of economic growth. Under her leadership, Oxfam is implementing a future-oriented strategy for an inclusive, sustainable and resilient region. Lan returned to Asia after serving as Oxfam’s Deputy Director for Global Campaigns. Prior to this, she was Country Director in the Philippines and served as Advisor to the ASEAN on disaster management and emergency Response. For many years before joining Oxfam, Lan held various positions in Philippine consumer groups, human rights and anti-dictatorship movements, and an international women’s NGO. She practiced as a journalist and radio broadcaster. Now back in her home country, Lan has picked up her involvement in Philippine social movements. Lan has a degree in mass communication and pursued post-graduate studies on sustainable development. She had won an award for investigative journalism. She was recently recognized by the University of the Philippines as a Distinguished Alumna and conferred the inaugural Glory Award by the UP College of Mass Communication for social advocacy and leadership in the development sector.

  • Ms Akuol Garang

    Refugee Advocate - Conference dinner guest speaker

    Akuol Garang is a Melbourne-based refugee and human rights advocate. As a Registered Migration Agent, Akuol provides advice and assistance in the preparation and lodgement of Australian visa applications. While studying towards her Masters in Human Rights Law, Akuol also volunteers for a number of organisations, including the Asylum Seeker Resource Center where she advocates for the Sudanese-Australian community, multiculturalism and for people seeking asylum in Australia. Akuol and her parents escaped her country of birth, resulting in 11 years of her childhood being spent in refugee camp.

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Preliminary Program

Please note that the Preliminary Program may be subject to change without notice.

  • Plenary
  • Breakouts
  • Networking

Plenary 1:  Welcome Session

Welcome to Country

Prof Jane de Hollander OA – Vice Chancellor, Deakin University
Official Conference Opening

CHL Directors
Opening Address

Degan Ali – Executive Director, Adeso
Keynote Presentation

Morning tea

Plenary 2:  Localisation

Chair – Dr. Phil Connors

Ghassan Elkahlout
Remotely Managed Localisation of Humanitarian Action: Yemen as a case study of disconnection between theory and practice

Sandie Walton-Ellery
The Interface Between Localisation and Improving Our Understanding of Humanitarian Needs


Session A
Transformative Practice

Chair – Melanie Book

Tobias Bienz
Humanitarian Entrepreneurship and Employee Shares

Hannah Reichardt
Solving the Hardest Problems, Together: A framework for working collaboratively

David Keegan
Creating Opportunities for Refugee Youth to Participate in Designing and Implementing Local Solutions

Matilda Kokui Owusu-Bio and Nathaniel Boso
Innovation and Organisational Performance: The boundary role of degree of novelty disaster relief organisations

Session B

Chair – Nazanin Zadeh-Cummings

Pip Henty
Drawing on Diversity – Humanitarian Leadership

Emily Dwyer and Elsa Carnaby
Down by the River: Addressing the rights, needs and strengths of Fijian sexual and gender minorities in disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response

Shahida Akhter
Protection of Women, Girls and Children in the Asia Pacific Region

Joelson Anere
Casual Failures or Intentional Failures: Who do we blame for the lack of gender equality programming in the humanitarian crisis before, during, and after the Bougainville crisis?


Session C
Climate Change

Chair – tbc

Subhashis Roy
Integrated Multi Year Organisational Preparedness Plan to Combat Humanitarian Crisis

Mohammed Abul Kalam
Ethical Issues in Climate Change Research in Bangladesh

Andrew Bidnell
Extraordinary Times Require Extraordinary Leaders

Session D

Chair – Rebecca Barber

Noa Tokavou
Localisation and Adaptive Capacity : Small Pacific Island perspective

Kiuomers Frozan
Role of Community Elders on Facilitation for Humanitarian Programmes in Afghanistan

Masood ul Mulk
Building Local Capacity to Undertake Humanitarian Work: Learning from the experience of Sarhad Rural Support Programme (SRSP) in Pakistan



Afternoon tea

Session E
Transformative Practice

Chair – Nazanin Zadeh-Cummings

Eri Tayama
What is the Impact of Psychosocial Support Provided by the Red Cross?

Nicolau Henriques
Improving Quality of Child Friendly Spaces to Strengthen Education and Protection in Humanitarian Settings

Emma Watton and Veronic Bell
GroundHog Day: Using intensive simulations to develop humanitarian leadership capability

Naima Weibel
Developing Humanitarian Negotiation Capabilities Through Critical Reflections and Experience Sharing – Afghanistan Challenges and Dilemmas

Session F
Technology and Data

Chair – Steve McDonald

Aradhana Gurung
Sikka: Working at the intersection of blockchain and field focused humanitarian innovation in Nepal

Spyros Schismenos
Hydropower for Disaster Resilience Applications (HYDRA)

Michael McCusker
Using HF Radio as a Medium to Prevent and Detect Ebola in Low Resourced, Rural and Geographically Isolated Communities

Melanie Book
The Political Economy of Humanitarian Data

Session G

Chair – tbc

Mirwais Khan
Health Care in Danger: Research as a tool for humanitarian action

Juhi Sonrexa
Amplifying The Voices of Adolescent Girls: Changing how data is collected

Cris Birzer
Complexities of Interdisciplinary Research Groups Focusing on the Humanitarian and Development Sectors



Session H

Chair – tbc

Clare Condillac
Localisation: Ready or not? Leading and managing the internal transformative changes implied by localisation

Chandan Kumar
Her Survival in Humanitarian Crisis is Her Message for Resilience

Jeevi Vivekananthan
Pacific Diaspora in Humanitarian Response to Natural Disasters: Motivations, characteristics and humanitarian actions

Uma Nepal
Youth Inclusive Approach to Localisation Agenda


Informal welcome reception

Plenary 3:

Chair – Steve McDonald

Per Heggenes – CEO, IKEA Foundation
Keynote Presentation

Lilian (Lan) Mercado – Asia Regional Director, Oxfam
Keynote Presentation

Morning tea

Plenary 4:  Leadership in a Shifting System

Chair – tbc

Andrew Henck
Changing Cultures: Strengthening humanitarian leadership in a VUCA world

Talha Jamal
Organisational Change: A choice and a necessity in humanitarian response


Session I
Interactive Panel Session

Chair – tbc

Jason Brown, Rahmawati Husein, Jessica Lees,  Louise McCosker and Jeremy Wellard
Charting the ‘New Norm’?

Session J
Disaster Response

Chair – Sophie Perreard

Rebecca Barber
Government Leadership in Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Humanitarian Crises

Annie Ingram
Localisation – A Global Commitment in an Australian Remote Indigenous Context

Gopinath Parayil
Situational Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Innovation During Disasters – The Chekutty Doll Story

Elsa Carnaby
Beyond the Partnership Approach

Session K

Chair – Lizzie Irvine

Kristen Beek
Capacity to Deliver Sexual and Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Crises in the Philippines: Lessons on preparedness, governance & localisation

Rachel Coghlan
Remembering the humanity of humanitarian response: the place of compassionate palliative care in conflict settings

Jo Durham Understanding and Improving the Humanitarian Response to Toxic Remnants of War

Sonia Brockington Outcomes of Untreated Severe Acute Malnutrition in India: A study of children aged 6-59 months in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan

Session L
Military and Emergency Services

Chair – tbc

Emily Chapman
Civil-Military Leadership During Natural Disaster Responses

Vandra Harris
Military Humanitarianism: NGO and military perspectives

Laarnie Calindas
Kant’s Categorical Imperative in Military Disaster Response

Paul Bailey
Flexible Responses to Humanitarian Disasters in the Indo Pacific Region

Afternoon tea

Session M
The Rohingya Response

Chair – Rebecca Barber

Tanzima Shahreen Challenges of Women Leadership in the Process of Localsiation in Rohinga Response

Mohammad Ali Shifting the Power of Traditional Local Leaders “Majhi”: Case Rohingya Refugee Camp

Nora Charif Chefchaouni The Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh: A comparative analysis of the humanitarian action in the field of emergency education

Subadhra Rai Building Capacity of Rohingya Refugees: Training community mental health practitioners and health champions

Session N
Humanitarian Response  

Chair – Laurette Hargreaves

Tanya Stelmach
Carving Space: Why violence against female aid workers matters for the delivery of the Australian Humanitarian Strategy

Lazarus Kenni and Jessica Lees
Extractives and Emergencies: The Papua New Guinea earthquake response

Leo Cusack
A Private Sector Response in a Conflict Zone – Aspen Medical’s Support to the Humanitarian Crisis in Northern Iraq

Session O
Humanitarian Response

Chair – tbc

Francis Obuseh
Policy Recommendations From the Implementation of the West Africa Disaster Preparedness Initiative (WADPI)

Adeleye Oyeniyi
Conflict and Violence in Africa: Causes, sources and types

Greg Barton and Dave Husy
The Value of INGOs Engaging in Prevention of Violent Extremism

Nazanin Zadeh-Cummings
Humanitarianism in the DPRK: Sanctions and future directions

Conference Dinner | Victoria Arts Centre

Plenary 5: 

Chair – tbc

Dr. Hugo Slim – Head of Policy, International Committee of the Red Cross
Keynote Speaker

Morning tea

Plenary 6:  Panel Session

Localisation and Complementarity in Different Humanitarian Contexts

Chair – tbc

Panellists – tbc 


Session Q

Chair – Sophie Perreard

Vandra Harris
Humanitarian Ethics 101: On learning ethics by coursework

Cornelia Walther
Compassion 4 Change: Leadership from the inside out

Saima Ahmad
Re-invigorating Human Wellbeing at Work Through Ethical Leadership: An Asia-Pacific study

Session R

Chair – Prof Matthew Clarke

Mohammad Seyam Investing Religious Capital to Protect Orphans in Conflict Areas, a Case Study: Islamic relief in the Gaza Strip

Belinda Lauria
Church Networks and Localisation Practice in the Pacific

Tim Hartley
It’s All in the Framing – Religious Belief and the Call to Humanitarian Action”

Alice Banfield

When ‘Acts of God’ Strike: Faith responses and leadership in Vanuatu natural disasters

Session S

Chair – tbc

Raymond Lopinski
EWB-HK Global Citizenship Program

Daniel McAvoy
Narratives of Success: Crowding out local leadership?

Peter Zwide Khumalo
Relief Food Aid Organisations and Traditional Leadership Nexus in Empowering Recipients and Improving Delivery


Plenary 7:  Closing Session

Dr. Phil Connors
Discussion and Closing Comments

Farewell afternoon tea

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For Presenters

For Presenters

Thank you to everyone who submitted an abstract for consideration for presentation at the 2019 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference. We were overwhelmed by the volume and calibre of abstracts. Submissions are now finalised and all submitters have been notified.

Important Dates for Abstract Presenters

Abstract changes: Closed

Last chance for presenters to confirm acceptance: Midnight 28 April 2019 EAST

Presentation submission deadline: COB 8 May 2019 EAST

Abstract portal

The abstract portal is now closed.

Presentation information and submission

Unless otherwise advised, all presenters will have 20 mins of presentation time, followed by 5 mins Q & A. The conference schedule is tight and presenters are asked to keep strictly to the allocated time. While preparing your presentation, please keep the conference themes in mind.

Presenters will be sent the conference template in Powerpoint format for their presentation by Friday 26 April 2019.

Presenters are asked to email their presentation in Microsoft PowerPoint format by COB Wednesday 8 May 2019 EAST to events@cfhl.org.au.

Conference Papers

Please note that peer review is no longer being offered – authors are not required to submit a full paper either prior to or after the conference. If you would like your paper to be considered for publication in the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership’s forthcoming Working Paper Series, please submit your 5000 word paper to matthew.clarke@deakin.edu.au.

Terms and conditions

The authors of accepted abstracts agree that at least one author will register prior to the 17 April and will present the accepted work at the 2019 Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

Submission of an abstract implies the author’s agreement to publish the abstract in all Conference publications including the Centre’s website.


For any enquiries regarding the paper submission, please contact events@cfhl.org.au.

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Registration information

Registration is $495. This includes morning and afternoon teas and lunch each day, and tickets to the social events.

A limited number of student registrations at 50% discount are available. For further information, please email events@cfhl.org.au.

Registrations must close COB 17 April 2019 EAST unless sold out prior.

Travel Support

With the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, we are able to offer a limited number of travel grants for presenters and delegates travelling from developing countries.

For further information, please email events@cfhl.org.au.

Conference Venue

Deakin Downtown
Tower 2, Level 12
727 Collins St
Melbourne Vic 3002

Find out how to get to Deakin Downtown

Official Social Functions

There two official conference social events – tickets to both are included in the conference registration.

Welcome Reception | 5.15pm Wednesday 22 May 2019
Deakin Downtown
This informal event will be held directly after the close of proceedings on the first day of the conference.

Conference Dinner | 6.45pm Thursday 23 May 2019
The Pavilion, Victorian Arts Centre
100 Swanston Street, Melbourne

We are delighted to announce that Akuol Garang, Melbourne based human rights and refugee advocate will be our guest speaker at the dinner.

Dinner includes welcome canapes, plus two courses, and drinks.
Dress is neat business attire.
Additional tickets can be purchased via the online registration portal.
More information about getting to the Victorian Arts Centre

Accommodation suggestions

The Grand Hotel, 33 Spencer Street
Travelodge Docklands, 66 Aurora Lane
The Savoy Hotel, 630 Little Collins Street
Intercontinental Rialto Melbourne, 495 Collins Street
Crowne Plaza, 1-5 Spencer Street
Batman on Collins, 623 Collins Street

Conference Enquiries

For all enquiries regarding the conference, please contact the events team at events@cfhl.org.au.

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