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Bibliography on "Innovation in the humanitarian sector"

 Definitions and principles related to innovation in the humanitarian sector

How can innovation deliver humanitarian outcomes? Challenges and Approaches for Humanitarian Innovation Policy, B. F. Nielsen, K. B. Sandvik, M. G. Jumbert, Policy Brief 12, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), juin 2016, 4 p.
This analysis looks at how to ensure that humanitarian innovations are as effective as possible, concluding that they should be based on the needs of crisis-affected people, that assessments of humanitarian innovation must be evidence-based, and data management must be responsible, ethical and effective.

Principles for Ethical Humanitarian Innovation, Occasional Policy Paper, Refugee Studies Center, University of Oxford, June 2015, 12 p.
This document presents a series of ethical principles aimed at all organisations involved in the area of humanitarian innovation. It defines innovation as a process of improvement and adaptation to context. However, as humanitarian innovation introduces new actors, increasingly complex products and processes, and experimentation to the sector it is crucial that it is governed by ethical considerations in order to guide everyday decision-making and avoid serious harm. These principles were drafted based on an initial workshop involving ICRC, UNHCR, UNICEF, OCHA, the World Humanitarian Summit secretariat, DFID, Save the Children, the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, as well as a range of academics with expertise in areas such as medical ethics, business ethics, humanitarian ethics, innovation management, and humanitarian practice.

Humanitarian Innovation : The State of the Art, Alexander Betts, Louise Bloom, OCHA Policy and Studies Series n°009, OCHA, PDSB, November 2014, 30 p.
The humanitarian system faces grave challenges, as record numbers of people are displaced for longer periods by natural disasters and escalating conflicts. At the same time new technologies, partners, and concepts allow humanitarian actors to understand and address problems quickly and effectively. To contend with these growing, and changing, demands, organizations are increasingly exploring the idea of “humanitarian innovation,” which draws upon concepts from the private sector to adapt and improve the humanitarian system. As a sign of its importance, “Transformation through Innovation” will be one of four themes of the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. Humanitarians have used the term “innovation” to refer to the role of technology, products and processes from other sectors, new forms of partnership, and the use of the ideas and coping capacities of crisis-affected people. However, as with many emerging ideas, use of the term in the humanitarian system has lacked conceptual clarity, leading to misuse, overuse, and the risk that it may become hollow rhetoric. A better understanding of the potential and purpose of the innovation cycle and an innovation mind-set can bring great benefits to the humanitarian system. This paper sets out to develop a common language and framework as a basis for dialogue, debate, and collaboration. The purpose is not to provide a definitive or comprehensive account but to offer ideas and examples to inspire further discussion. Each section of the paper highlights an aspect of the concept: 1) the rise of humanitarian innovation and the innovation ecosystem; 2) the unique challenges of humanitarian innovation; 3) the innovation cycle in practice; 4) the role of crisis-affected people; and 5) advancing the debate. The report ends with a number of case studies, including presentations by Cash Programming and the Digital Humanitarian Network.

The two worlds of humanitarian innovation, Louise Bloom, Alexander Betts, Working Paper N° 94, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, August 2013, 45 p.
This report describes two approaches to innovation: one which falls solely into the institutionalised practice of a small number of humanitarian actors, and which focuses on upwards accountability to donors and traditionally takes a more ‘top-down’ approach in implementing solutions for affected populations; and another which fosters and builds on the existing innovative capabilities and systems of local communities. There is currently little attention given to the latter ‘bottom-up’ world of humanitarian innovation, whereas there appears to be a heavy focus on the world where innovation serves as a tool to solve institutionalised management issues faced by international actors. In order to address this potentially expanding gap in the understanding and practice of humanitarian innovation, this paper seeks to build new concepts in order to understand ‘bottom-up’ humanitarian innovation and look for ways forward as to how the two worlds can be brought closer together, addressing the challenge of finding opportunities for self-reliance amongst crisis-affected populations.

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Bibliography: Innovation in the humanitarian sector, Humanitarian Aid on the move n°18, November 2016, in French