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Sean Lowrie addresses the World Humanitarian Summit

  • by Startnetwork
  • 24 May 16

Blog Post

On Tuesday 24 May, Sean Lowrie, Director of the Start Network, delivered the following statement to the World Humanitarian Summit plenary.


Ladies and Gentlemen, as the Director of the Start Network and as a fellow humanitarian, I ask: does the world need us as we are - or as we could be?

Incumbent humanitarian organisations must change, and our structures must evolve.  We need a new humanitarian economy, with new business models, new incentives, new technologies, different rules and multiple delivery channels - a locally led ecosystem that brings all of society into this endeavour.

We can find new ways of working.  The Start Network is something new.  Start is a group of 39 national and international NGOs that is able to impartially deploy resources in 200 countries and territories.  The Start Network works with over 100 partners from the private sector, government, academia and local civil society.

Why have NGOs formed this Network?  Because they accept systemic change can occur only through collaboration at scale.  Only through collaboration can NGOs help connect people in crisis with the best possible solutions that are available today.

The Start Network’s initiatives: in new financing mechanisms, capacity building and innovation demand that NGOs work in novel ways toward an uncertain destination.  This challenging new form of collaboration forces NGOs to ask:  does the world need us as we are - or as we could be?

Through the Start Network - NGOs are making a significant contribution to enable affected people to lead safer lives.  For example, Start Fund is very fast- projects are funded within 72 hours, and projects are selected at the national level.  But this contribution can go much further.  Start merits your investment and your encouragement.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the spirit of the Secretary General’s Agenda for Humanity, I am proud to tell you that:

  • We have proven methods for shifting power to the national level that are ready to scale
  • We can and will develop incentives that will enable the affected population to influence the assistance they receive
  • We will launch completely new business models for humanitarian crisis response
  • We will offer funding for forecast-based interventions
  • We will have a single global due diligence process
  • We will enable live public tracking of our funding decisions and we will test a new transparent and publically owned governance platform using blockchain technology, and
  • We commit to working across organisational boundaries in ways that are challenging, uncomfortable, and necessary. 

We commit to that journey, and we invite you to join us in this journey.  The humanitarian ecosystem could be a collectively owned global public good - impartial, independent, diverse, democratic, decentralised and legitimate. 

The Start Network demonstrates that NGOs are not only willing to change, but they are changing.  A network of civil society organisations that is both local and global can and will contribute to a modern and appropriate humanitarian ecosystem.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the world needs us – not as we are; but as we could be!

Read more about Start Network at the World Humanitarian Summit.

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World Humanitarian Summit

  • by Startnetwork