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Megatrends and the future of humanitarian action

31-12-2011 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 884, by Elizabeth Ferris

This article assesses the implications of six megatrends for humanitarian action in the future, including changes in demography, technology and science, economics, political power, climate, and patterns of conflict.

Abstract

This article assesses the implications of six megatrends for humanitarian action in the future, including changes in demography, technology and science, economics, political power, climate, and patterns of conflict. The interaction of these trends suggests a particularly complex landscape for future humanitarian response. For example, conflict in the future is more likely to take place in cities that are growing as a result of economic and environmental factors. Social media are contributing to both political change and humanitarian response, while changes in global political and economic
power are likely to influence the way in which the international humanitarian system is financed and supported.

Biography

Elizabeth Ferris is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-director of the Brookings–LSE Project on Internal
Displacement. Her most recent book, The Politics of  Protection: The Limits of Humanitarian Action, was published in 2011.