Aidex Voices

In a world of rapidly increasing internet connectivity, digital literacy and advancements in technological innovations, how is the humanitarian aid and development sector faring? The event director of AidEx, the world’s biggest event for humanitarian aid and development professionals, Nicholas Rutherford says AidEx this year is specifically set against a digital background to answer these crucial questions.

Under the theme “Revolution in the digital age: Safeguarding a future for all. How can technology contribute to a positive social impact?” the conference, to be held November 14-15 in Brussels, will explore in-depth the most important and pressing questions that the aid and development community must consider if it is to evolve with the digital revolution.

Digital literacy has become vital to ensuring that vulnerable and marginalised people and communities are able to use technology in a world familiar with increased connectivity. Louisa Seferis of the Danish Refugee Council will help us consider the risks of such connectivity, and how people in developing countries can be empowered with digital skills.

Beyond internet access, what else is needed to achieve global digital inclusion? From cyber security to leadership and technical skills in implementing effective regulations, policies and infrastructures, it is necessary to learn what is needed to support the building of these systems and processes.

The digital age presents both unprecedented opportunities and impediments, in terms of infrastructure and data – but what impact are these having on the delivery of meeting the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030? Can digitalisation be a tool within itself used to enable better SDG results for more people?

There is no denying that the aid and development system is changing. As more actors enter the field from across the sector, existing organisations are adapting. From embracing new technology, to inventing new financial services, Head of Innovation for the Red Cross, Nan Buzard will question the extent technology can accelerate innovation and improve aid efficiency in a keynote speech on November 15.

Expanding new markets involving drones, blockchain, self-driving vehicles and mobile banking all present themselves as promising emerging solutions, but how do we encourage the uptake and integration of technology by local and traditional enterprises and why is it so important for them to adapt?

The ethical concerns behind using big data to secure essential evidence and analysis required for sustainable development must not come at the cost of the sensitivities of vulnerable populations. What measures must organisations take, therefore, to become digitally resilient, to prevent breaches and cyberattacks?

Technology is inevitably transforming the aid and development sector, which is why it is imperative for the community to come together to discuss how best we can cooperate, in order to ensure “no one is left behind.”

Over two days, AidEx 2018 promises to instigate dialogue and influence thinking around the future of aid and development within a context of digital revolution. Being the largest event of its kind, the event in Brussels will see over 2,000 aid and development professionals attend the two-day high-profile conference and exhibition.

From international government officials to private sector CEOs and heads of charities, expert speakers will contribute their ideas and projections. The major keynote address will come from former Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs & Emergency Relief Coordinator at the UN, Sir Stephen O’Brien KBE. Meanwhile, the exhibition will showcase 200 suppliers of innovative products and services on behalf of UN agencies, NGOs and commercial organisations. There will be numerous networking opportunities and award ceremonies. 

This article was originally printed in iMPACT Magazine's July - September 2018 issue.