Declaration of intent

We are a group of humanitarian civil society organisations. We are different, but united in our efforts to save lives, alleviate suffering and protect human dignity in times of crisis. We believe that helping others is fundamental to society.

While we recognise and support approaches including disaster risk reduction and long-term poverty alleviation, our focus is specifically on crisis response and preparedness. This Declaration therefore outlines our collective commitment to accelerate crisis response.

What we stand for

We seek to catalyse a change within the humanitarian sector so that it can meet the needs of crisis-affected people in a future of great uncertainty and complexity.

We seek to promote a way of working that enables the international and local to coexist. The existing system contains much that is good, but it is too top-heavy, directed, bureaucratic and technocratic.  Our vision is an innovative, flexible, responsive system that is connected to crisis-affected people.

We seek to anticipate and meet current, emerging and future humanitarian needs. To accelerate crisis response effectively, the humanitarian system must radically change.

We must build on what we have learned from experience about humanitarian action, without binding ourselves to an outdated system that cannot meet the needs of the future. The people we serve deserve our best.

Our collective vision

We collaborate because the change that is demanded of us cannot be achieved by any single organisation alone. Together, Start Network agencies can transform crisis response. We will shape a system that is:

Diverse: The humanitarian system must increase its diversity and tolerance of alternative approaches. We aim for a ‘humanitarian ecosystem’ that contains organisations of different sizes, types, cultures and modes of response, in a state of continual experimentation and growth.

Decentralised: We aim to shift the centre of humanitarian gravity, so that decision making and leadership take place at the front line and affected people are empowered to improve their lives. Everyone has a contribution to make to reduce the risk of crises, whether it is at a global or local level, but we need to ensure that local ownership and capacity drive humanitarian response.

Collaborative:  Crises in the future will demand humanitarian response that involves many more people and organisations than today.  We will need to do different things, and work together in new ways.  Relationships across boundaries – national, cultural, organisational – will be key in rising to this challenge.  We will make collaboration central to our action and not allow competition between our agencies to interfere with our common objectives.

How we will act

It’s not always our place to deliver the assistance that’s needed. But we have the courage to hand over this responsibility to those that can do the best job.  We will collaborate to deliver our vision in three areas:

The Start Fund – new business models and financial mechanisms for crisis response by NGOs
Start Beta – evidence, enquiry, learning and experimentation
Start Build – modern, decentralised and effective capacity building initiatives.

Find out more about Start Network