The World Humanitarian Forum is a global call for action and brings together prominent leaders from the public and private sectors, as well as international thought leaders and pioneers from global aid and international development communities to engage in inspirational, thought-provoking, and future-focused dialogues which aim to shape the future of humanitarian aid and international development to help improving the lives of millions in need. This is an international knowledge exchange at the intersection of government, aid, development, future and innovation.    

The Covid-19 crisis brought the world to a sudden standstill. The economic impacts continue to look worse each day. Hard-won democratic rights and freedoms were already being challenged before the pandemic struck and are even more at risk now. The crisis has also exposed a lack of global cooperation and collective leadership.

The pandemic has radically altered much of our lives around the world in both the short and long term. It raised the stakes, accelerating the need for systemic change and radical yet realistic measures to recalibrate social values and provide more sustainable and equitable pathways for the future. The consequences that have unfolded serve as a reminder that efforts to reduce poverty, fight climate change and create an economy that works for all require bold change.

The world today has a unique opportunity to move from marginal changes to transformative re-development. Using decentralised models of growth, building on opportunities provided by digitalisation and artificial intelligence could ensure climate-friendly sustainable development with a more equitable distribution of wealth.

WHF London will analyse the future of humanitarianism, what the “Global Reset” will mean for humanitarian aid and international development and what exactly will a ‘Global Reset’ look like? WHF London will create a series of conversations across 2 days to interrogate global challenges and chart the practical steps required to create more resilient, equal societies and reimagine a world beyond the pandemic.


The times described below are in British Summer Time time zone.


Wednesday 19th May 2021

10:00 – 10.10: Welcoming Remarks

Feraye Ozfescioglu, CEO World Humanitarian Forum

Message from WHF Advisory Board Members

10.15 – 12.25: Re-Definitions in the Global Reset Dialogue

10.20 – 11.20: Re-defining humanitarianism and system change

What does the “global reset” brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic mean for the aid? As international aid reaches operational, financial, and ethical limits, what would it take to translate longstanding efforts at reform into meaningful and positive change? From decolonising aid to networked humanitarianism and the make-up of NGO governance, this session will take you on a thought-provoking journey as the panellists explore the future and redefinitions of humanitarianism. The session will discuss the drivers of change affecting international aid, from the increasingly protracted nature of crises, to the funding environment and opportunities offered by digital world.


Mark Lowcock    Jagan Chapagain    Sara Pantuliano

Blair Sheppard    Dhananjayan    Dr Ahmed Al Meraikhi


11.25 – 12.25: Re-defining equality

Covid-19 has exacerbated the inequalities. From digital divide to gender, from minority rights to LGBT rights, have we misunderstood the basis of the term “equality”? Equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world, but what does this term mean in the wake of the “Global Reset Dialogue”?



Lord Simon Woolley    Simon Rodgers    Sheikha Intisar AlSabah

Tawakkol Karman    Salma Nims

12.25 – 14.00: Networking

Networking Time

14.00 – 14.30: Fireside Chat: Building Back Not Only Better, But Also Equal


Olufolake Abdulrazaq

14.35 – 15.35: Preparing For Localisation

The Secretary-General’s call at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, that humanitarian action should be ‘as local as possible, as international as necessary’, has triggered a whirlwind of initiatives, processes and debates within the humanitarian community. However, not enough progress has been made. Covid-19 showed us that the stronger we are on the local level, the more effective approaches there are. Whether referred to as ‘localisation’, ‘local humanitarian action’ or ‘locally-led humanitarian action’, the humanitarian sector is grappling with what actions and reforms are needed to allow a more local humanitarian response and this session will explore the opportunities ahead in the context of Global Reset Dialogue.


Inger Ashing    Asif Saleh    Manu Gupta

David Peppiatt    Prince Dr Ned Munir Nwoko    Hibak Kalfan

15.40 – 16.25: Re-Imagining Education In Global Reset Dialogue

Innovative learning pathways have emerged from far beyond the four walls of a classroom — from videos, songs, and games to WhatsApp groups and “zero-rated” education portals. These developments are making us rethink traditional views on how we “do” education. We must be vigilant in making sure that the coronavirus pandemic does not result in children dropping out of school and never returning. Is there any better time to re-imagine the future of education and its impacts in building better?


Vivian Lopez    Dr Sonia Ben Jaafar    Noella Coursaris

Dr Salim M. AlMalik    Shiv Khemka    Melati Wijsen


  • "I Am A Work Of Art" by Hawa Ahmed (brought by Naratio)

16.30 -17.30: How To Ensure To Leave No One Behind In The Global Reset Dialogue

Leave no one behind not only entails reaching the poorest of the poor, but requires combating disparities and rising inequalities within and amongst countries, that are often their root causes. As a fundamental principle underlying Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, its emphasis on prioritising the plight of the most disadvantaged groups, if pursued with coherence and resolve, has the capacity to bring about transformative change. The Covid-19 pandemic has stalled global progress on many of the Sustainable Development Goals, join us in this session as we discuss what needs to be done to advance “leaving no one behind”.


Sherrie Westin    Princess Lamia    Lois Quam    Dominique Hyde

17.30 - 17.45:

  • Video message by Founder of ARTconnects, Salma Zulfiqar
  • Award winning video exhibition: "In Solidarity - The Migration Blanket" by ARTconnects

Thursday 20th May 2021

09.30 – 09.35: Opening Remarks: Building Back Better

Maria Juliana Ruiz

09.35 – 10.00: Keynote Session: Paving The Way To COP26: Mission Possible

We cannot afford to wait to act against the threat of climate change. We must work together to protect our planet and people and ensure a greener, more resilient future for us all. We not only have to highlight the urgency of climate action, but also help navigate the competing visions of a green future, as well as the complex choices and trade-offs facing policy-makers. The core question, ‘What has to happen next on the climate emergency?’ is not as straightforward as it seems.

The roadmap can be summarised as: Motivate; Mobilise; Manage; Repeat. COP26 comes at a right time. On the way to COP26, there is need to bring governments, business and civil society together to drive action across key sectors of the economy to reduce emissions, adapt to the effects of climate change and build resilience.


Opening Remarks:

Alok Sharma   


 Licypriya Kangujam    Nisreen Elsaim    Cyrill Gutsch

10.05 - 10.40: Fireside Chat: The Voice of a River

  • Film screening "The Voice of a River".

In 1979, Mark Dubois chained himself to a rock behind New Melones Dam in the USA’s Stanislaus River Canyon and threw away the key. This was no empty gesture: if the Army Corps of Engineers continued to fill the reservoir, Mark would drown. 42 years later, Mark’s story has been told in a short film released for Earth Day 2021. It’s hoped The Voice of a River, created by Citrix Systems and My Green Pod, and produced by Carlos Gonzalez, will remind everyone that one person’s actions can make lasting positive change.

  • Interview with Clare and Mark Dubois

Mark Dubois    Clare Dubois

10.40 – 11.20: Paving the Way to COP26: COPXX Special Launch

In building back better, we want a new agenda of equality prioritizing SDG 5 for the planet.  Where the agenda of prioritizing the feminine principles of care and compassion drive the way businesses are run, the way laws are made and the way we design our lives, not the other way around. In short – from exploitation and extraction to restoration and regeneration. The World Humanitarian Forum supports the launch of COPXX leading up to COP26 to promote these outcomes.

Innovation and new technology can be a powerful tool of collaboration between humankind to show more Love, Respect and Gratitude for each other and our planet and accelerate solutions.


Dianne Dain    Jarvis Smith    Aisha Babangida    Salem Avan

Antoinette Vermilye    Sergio Fernandez    Emily Cromwell

11:20 - 11:40: Networking

Networking Time

11.45 – 13.00: Youth Leadership: The Role Of Youth In Building Back Better

The current pandemic has disrupted nearly all aspects of life for all groups in society, highlighting the need for more sustainable economies and more resilient societies. It is important than ever to listen to our young people and invite them to actively help co-design and build back better. An inclusive response to and recovery from the crisis requires an integrated approach to public governance that anticipates the impact of response and recovery measures across different age cohorts. Join us in this discussion as we address the challenges of today generational gap, for our aspirations to build back better and create an intern- generational society that leaves no one behind. You will hear the young leaders in this important session


Opening Remarks




Courtney Sunna    Safoora Biglari    Sophie Daud    Siddarth SatishKehkashan Basu    Kenneth Kwok    Vivian Onano    Apefa AdjivonMete Coban    Arash Bordbar


13.00 - 13.35: Networking

Networking Time

13.35 – 14.30: Innovative Finance: New Models Of Financing The Gap

Climate change, food insecurity, inequality, poverty, the threat of pandemics and sustainable development goals: all require significant funding that goes far beyond what governments alone can provide. Through new partnerships, philanthropy and the development of creative financing solutions, we can bridge the gaps and address the world’s biggest challenges.


Charlie Bronks    Preeti Sinha    Mahmoud Mohieldin    Jurgen Rigterink

14.35 – 15.35: Cross-Sector Partnerships: Creation Of Value

Major shifts are taking place in the context within which partnerships are created and operate. and many are rising to the challenge, in a range of ways and driven by a wide variety of motivations. The private sector can provide new practices and perspectives that contribute to improvements. Therefore, leveraging the knowledge of the private sector into supporting the Global Reset and Building Back Better is vital for the future success. Whether this be expertise in telecommunications, sanitation or financing, the private sector can bring unique capabilities. This session will look at the biggest challenges to public and private partnerships while considering the role of trust, shared values and inclusive growth as business cannot thrive in a failing world.

Confirmed Speakers:

Rachel Bale    Nicholas Logothetis    Mariarosa Cutillo     Marcia Balisciano

15.40 - 16.00: Fireside Chat: Future of Global Health and Leadership


Ruud Dobber

16.05 - 17.00: Unlocking The Potential: Harnessing Innovation And Technology For Good

The crisis we are going through will leave traces. We have the responsibility to build the fairer world that our children expect, one in which innovation contributes to the common good. We 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 and re-definitions needed, 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 mindset can bring great benefits in building back better and it is time to invest in innovation.

Confirmed Speakers:

Jocelyn Mackie    Jarmo Sareva    Alix Peterson Zwane    Dianne Dain

17.05 - 17.30: Fireside Chat


Agnes Kalibata

17.30 – 17.35: Closing Remarks 


  • Feraye Ozfescioglu, CEO, World Humanitarian Forum

Timeline and agenda are subject to change.



Each convening of the World Humanitarian Forum is focused on  bringing together a rich selection of world-class, expert speakers  from across the globe. Our Thematic Theatres provide an innovative  platform for these thought leaders to tackle ‘head-on’ the key  issues and challenges facing the sector today. These sessions cover a range of topics, including Tech For Good, Innovation, Supply  Chain Management, International Development, and Finance and  Funding. By initiating themed discussions in front of an international  audience, these theatres inspire attendees and deepen the industry’s  understanding of key trends in the Humanitarian and International Development world.