When we titled the 2019 Humanitarian Congress Berlin – A Perfect Storm – we did not expect that The Perfect Storm was in fact still ahead of us. Early this year we took the difficult decision not to run the Humanitarian Congress in Berlin as originally planned. Regardless of whether the event could technically take place in Berlin, we knew that we would not be able to make sure the diverse speakers and participants we were planning to invite, would be able to travel to Berlin. Communities and humanitarian actors are facing multiple challenges in responding to the global Covid-19 outbreak in addition to balancing the response to pre-existing crises. Therefore we decided that 2020 was a year, in which critical debate and a platform to openly discuss the most pressing humanitarian issues, was needed more than ever.
Exposing Power & Privilege in Times of Crisis
This is a time of major upheaval, once again exposing deep structural and social inequalities. This year’s programme will therefore revolve around the theme “Exposing Power & Privilege in Times of Crisis”. We will be discussing the existing power imbalances in the humanitarian sector and how social inequalities shape the global response to crises. We will confront emerging issues such as the fight against the spread of misinformation and the private sector’s profiteering on drugs, tests, and vaccines used for the Covid-19 pandemic. We will discuss how the pandemic has redefined vulnerability and talk about issues such as gender-based violence. We will address racism and white privilege and talk about decolonising humanitarian action, issues where the humanitarian sector still has a long way to go. In addition, we will follow up the conversation from last year’s event and discuss the humanitarian consequences of climate change, including a session on preparing for a 1-4 degree world, the role of the climate crisis in relation to urbanisation and of course, how to tackle a health and a climate crisis simultaneously.
20 years of frank and (self) critical debate
For more than 20 years, the Humanitarian Congress Berlin has been debating, analysing, evaluating and developing the theory and practice of humanitarian action. It brings together leading experts from medical and humanitarian organisations, governments, and the media, as well as young professionals interested in humanitarian work. It provides participants from around the globe with a unique opportunity to share their experience, knowledge and ideas of humanitarian action in an international and multi-disciplinary setting. By gathering more than 1000 individuals from across the globe every year, the Humanitarian Congress Berlin has created a community with a shared interest in the main challenges confronting humanitarian action.