It is obvious that in a turbulent environment that is in a state of constant change and new emerging humanitarian needs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement faces new challenges but still needs to continue responding adequately to traditional ones. Looking at the long history of the Movement, one can see that the mandate of each component varies and has developed according to the needs of each era though still being bound by one common goal, that is to alleviate human suffering across the globe.  After 150 years of humanitarian action it is obvious that because of different mandates, the diversification of activities, a lack of cohesion and weak mutual ties, the Movement has become a loose entity.

As one of the leading humanitarian organisations, the Movement has always been concerned with the question: ‘Are we still fit for purpose?’. While struggling with internal issues, like National Society fragility, confusion of roles and responsibilities between different components of the Movement, fluctuating volunteer base, absence of agreed and coherent Movement vision and corresponding alignment of IFRC and ICRC strategies, the Movement needs to ‘scientifically’ and ‘rationally’ navigate the complexity of the humanitarian system and regularly analyse trends in the areas where it is operating. Such an analysis needs to look at developments both on a case-by-case basis and more globally. Along with developing the resilience of communities, the Movement also needs to develop its own resilience in an ever-changing world through use of future-thinking, strategic design and sense-making in order to step back from our day to day, anticipate changes and consider how those signals of change and emerging trends will impact our ‘business’ tomorrow.

In light of the upcoming discussions on Strategy 2030 of the Federation at the Statutory Meetings 2019 in Geneva, potential questions that need to be addressed are:

  1. Are we still fit for purpose? And are we challenging the status quo?
  2. What are today’s underlying challenges for IFRC’s humanitarian delivery?
  3. Do we have the capacity and vision to tackle the crises of today, tomorrow and deep into the future?
  4. How do we address the notion of change in Red Cross and Red Crescent?
  5. What practices/processes do we have to make sense of this change?
  6. Are we exploring how our changing societies and global network impact our business?
  7. Data helps us to identify trends but do we use data to understand why these trends are happening and how they contribute to emerging ‘futurbulances’?

In ice hockey, they teach you to skate not to where the puck is but to where it is going next. I do hope that the upcoming discussions around shaping the future of the Federation for the next 100 years, will unfold and unpack those different layers that help us look deeper at the emerging trends and understand how they impact our ‘business’ tomorrow. 

Liana Ghukasyan

Senior Humanitarian Affairs Delegate, Delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to the United Nations