Geneva – Today, the Foundation for the International Committee of the Red Cross announced its ambition to create an endowment fund to invest in breakthrough innovation and help the ICRC and the wider International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as well as the humanitarian community adapt to a fast-changing operational landscape.
The Foundation was established in 1931 to help the ICRC fulfil its vital mission in wartime as in peacetime. 90 years on, the context in which humanitarian actors operate has drastically changed with the development of new technologies, the changing nature of warfare and the worsening climate crisis. In this context, the Foundation is being revigorated to accelerate breakthrough innovation so the ICRC and its Movement partners can achieve greater impact.
“For the past 160 years, our work has required continuous adaptation to new realities on the ground. With today’s advances in science and technology and the multiplication of crises, we need to be more intentional in our approach to innovation. It is not just an opportunity; it is our responsibility. That is the raison d’être of the Foundation for the ICRC,” explains Peter Maurer, ICRC President.
The Foundation brings new focus and commitment to breakthrough innovation with dedicated resources and funding in four key areas: strengthening international humanitarian law, leveraging science and technology for humanitarian action, exploring and scaling new financing models and building environmental sustainability and resilience in protracted crisis. For instance, how can new technologies such as AI be leveraged for humanitarian actors? Or can crypto-currencies offer end-to-end financing-to-delivery solutions for affected populations? The Foundation offers a laboratory to brainstorm and co-design novel approaches with humanitarian experts and thought leaders from business, academia and the arts.
To achieve these objectives, and in agreement with the Movement-wide principles for resource mobilization, the Foundation will grow its capacity to become a key sponsor of breakthrough innovation for the ICRC and the wider International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Thanks to the generous support of its Founding partners, it has received more than 210M CHF in donations and pledges to date for its innovation agenda, notably from the Swiss Confederation and the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, as well as Microsoft and its President and Vice-Chair Brad Smith, the Vontobel-Stiftung and several other supporters.
“The Foundation is born out of the idea that we need multi-stakeholder support to co-create solutions to address ever more complex humanitarian challenges,” explains Gilles Carbonnier, Vice-President of the ICRC and President of the Foundation for the ICRC. To that end, it is establishing a Leadership Advisory Council, a high-level group of individuals and organisations providing expertise and resources to advance the Foundation’s mission and steer innovation. This Council will be chaired by Thomas Buberl, CEO of AXA GROUP. It is also launching an Art Initiative to provide fresh perspectives on humanitarian challenges and innovation, engaging the art world in support of its mission.
“I am thrilled by the initial support of our Founding Partners and invite thought leaders and change makers to join us and help sustain our ability to innovate and, with the wider International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, carry out our vital mission and enhance our Movement’s collective impact.” concludes Gilles Carbonnier.
For more information, please contact:
**Fatima Sator in Geneva (English, French), +41 79 848 49 08
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