Planning from the future: an emerging agenda

31 December 2011 Randolph Kent

In the foreseeable future, it is more than likely that the types, dimensions, and dynamics of crisis drivers will increase dramatically, in some instances exponentially. While a growing number of organizations with humanitarian roles and esponsibilities sense that such changes are afoot, few have looked at how these might fundamentally affect not only what they do but also how they do it. This article suggests that it is time for humanitarian organizations to look far more systematically at the transformational factors that will increase disaster vulnerabilities around the world and also the opportunities that exist to mitigate them. The article notes that some of the most transformative factors affecting humanitarian action will be the result of new political structures in the post-Western hegemonic world and the growing political centrality of humanitarian crises. The consequences of these and other transformative factors mean that those with humanitarian roles and responsibilities will have to be far more anticipatory and adaptive than is the case today. They will have to pay far greater attention to innovation and innovative practices and significantly expand the ways in which and with whom they collaborate.

About the author

Randolph Kent
King’s College

Dr Randolph Kent directed the Humanitarian Futures Programme at Kings College, London. The programme, established in 2006, was designed to enhance the adaptive and anticipatory capacities of humanitarian organizations to deal with the types of threat that need to be faced in the future.