Home The CentreLatest news and insights 2019 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference

Leading humanitarian thinkers from around the globe gathered in Melbourne in May for 2019 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference. 

Humanitarians, academics, researchers and representatives from government, NGOs and the private sector met over three days to examine issues around humanitarian leadership in a shifting system; the future of humanitarian action, climate change and leadership; and localisation.  

A truly international conference, delegates from over 25 countries attended the premier event, embodying the Centre’s commitment to action on the localisation agenda.

Lan Mercado, Oxfam Asia Regional Director, explained her keynote address, “We need to shift the supply-driven system where donors, the UN system, and INGOs – including Oxfam – dictate terms to local communities and organisations to one where decision-making power lies with local actors. 

The humanitarian sector is incredibly complex and difficult to unpack in a single conference. This event succeeded in presenting a well rounded response to understanding humanitarian leadership. 

—Conference delegate

Degan Ali, Director Adeso and keynote, summarised, “If we are serious about innovation, we need to fund local actors and then get out of their way”.  

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

As humanitarians we must adapt to adaptation,” Hugo Slim, Head of Policy at the International Committee of the Red Cross, on the importance of flexible leadership in relation to climate induced humanitarian crises. 

An outstanding event. Great content. Superior planning. Awesome opportunity to network with industry leaders. I learnt so much and felt very inspired by the amazing line up of speakers. 

—Conference delegate

Over 20 speakers and delegates travelled from South and South East Asia, Africa and Pacific Islands with the support of DFAT travel assistance. 

We thank our partners Save the Children, Deakin University, IKEA Foundation and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their support in making the 2019 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference a success. 

We need this “pracademic” approach — in a fast changing, information rich but analysis poor world we really need to pause and think of why we are working the way we work, why we are going in the directions we go in and how different strands of operations and thinking and research are (and need to be) connected. 

—Conference delegate

Watch the keynote speakers presentations from the 2019 Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference

Per Heggenes, Chief Executive Officer, IKEA Foundation, How We Think About Leadership at the IKEA Foundation

Dr Hugo Slim, Head of Policy International Committee of the Red Cross, Leading Big and Small: Balancing scale and detail in humanitarian leadership today

Degan Ali, Executive Director, Adeso, The Future of Truly Localised Aid: A vision beyond 2020

Watch Lan Mercado, Asia Regional Director for Oxfam, Humanitarian Futures for Asia 

Localisation and Complementarity in Different Humanitarian Contexts, Chair, Jeremy Wellard, ICVA, Head of Humanitarian Coordination

Media coverage

‘Q&A: Per Heggenes on leadership in the shifting humanitarian landscape’, Lisa Cornish in Devex, 19 June 2019.

‘Putting localization at the center of the humanitarian future’, Lisa Cornish in Devex, 31 May 2019

Conference Papers published in the Humanitarian Leader

Belinda Lauria, ‘Church Networks and Localisation Practice in the Pacific’, published November 2019.

Rachel Coghlan, ‘Palliative care in humanitarian crises: innovation or radical reclaiming of roots?’, published September 2019.

The 2021 Humanitarian Leadership Conference will be held in April 2021.