This post, jointly written with John Mitchell of ALNAP, reflects on the emerging challenges faced by the international humanitarian sector, and the need for systemic changes. This piece is also published on the ALNAP blog, and the discussion paper on which this is based can be downloaded here. CAR, Syria, Iraq and South Sudan, Gaza, Ebola… […]

Humanitarian coordination has been described in a new ODI paper as a ‘wicked problem’ which demands new and radical solutions. This post explores the  longstanding incentive issues underlying the lack of effective coordination and suggests possible ways forward. In a paper published last year,  Michael Barnett and I argued that the humanitarian system was stuck in much the […]

Following the Japanese earthquake, the Philippines government have announced plans to explore the use of complexity science in better understanding disaster vulnerability and risk. The effort is to be taken forward by the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering, in collaboration with the Philippine Disaster Science Management Center. Senator Edgardo Angara, Chair of Congressional Commission […]

Most analysts agree that globalisation has become more intensive and dramatic in recent decades because of advances in technology, communications, science and transportation. While it can be a catalyst for development and progress, globalisation also carries significant and increasing challenges for aid policy makers and practitioners alike. I: The new face of vulnerability? Recent years […]

When does crowdsourcing work best? New research from the Institute for Human Development provides answers which may be of relevance for aid projects and programmes. There has been a lot written, spoken and blogged about the power of crowds in making decisions. In James Surowiecki‘s bestselling Wisdom of Crowds, published in 2004, the central thesis […]

Tipping points are found in ecosystems, economies and even bodies. But they’re usually recognized in retrospect, when it’s too late for anything but regret. Now a growing body of research suggests there are telltale mathematical signals. If scientists can figure out how to detect them, they may be able to forecast tipping points ahead of […]