Home The CentreEvents 2023 Humanitarian Leadership Conference

About the conference

Re-engineering the global disaster response system

Reinvigorating change

The humanitarian system is no longer fit-for-purpose to deal with the scale and severity of crises in the 21st century.  Climate change, increasing fragility and conflict, and financial and economic crises are compounding disasters. System reform initiatives such as anticipatory action, the triple nexus, and resilient development have not led to transformational change. Progress towards decolonising aid, shifting the power and achieving the localisation agenda has stalled.

The 2023 Humanitarian Leadership Conference examined why the system is ‘stuck’ and explored ambitious and pragmatic ways to reinvigorate change. It explored answers to key questions: what needs to change, how, and who needs to drive the change; across four key areas: funding for crisis response, organisational modelsmandates and motivations.

Read the Conference Impact Report (PDF)

View a selection of #2023HLC session recordings on YouTube.

Access the Attendee Hub (for registered delegates).



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Conference themes

The Conference explored how to re-engineer the global response system through the lens of four sub-themes:


Currently, there is not enough money in the system to pay for the overwhelming amount of assistance necessary to respond to disasters – why? How can we change where the money comes from and the form in which it is provided to enable timely assistance at the scale required?


Every organisation that responds to a crisis has its own mandate, and many have very similar mandates – is this the best way forward? Who are the legitimate actors with the mandate to respond (or support the response) in the eyes of those affected by disasters?


What are the advantages and disadvantages of the organisational models that dominate the global disaster response system? How could different organisational models enable better responses?


How do we change the incentive structures of the current global disaster response system to better encourage a more inclusive, respectful, empowering, and resourced system?

Download the full Sub Theme Briefing Document.

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Keynote Speakers

  • Themrise Khan

    Themrise Khan

    Independent development professional and researcher

    Themrise Khan is an independent development professional and researcher with over 25 years of practitioner and policy-based experience in international development, aid effectiveness, gender, and global migration. She has worked with a vast spectrum of multilateral and bilateral organizations, INGOs and civil society organizations in Pakistan, Canada and South Asia and has a number of publications and articles to her credit. She had just published a co-edited book; White Saviorism in International Development. Theories, Practices and Lived Experiences (Daraja Press, Canada, 2023).

    She blogs, speaks and writes actively on notions of decolonization, North-South power imbalances in development, race relations and immigrant citizenship and integration. She lives in Pakistan.

  • Adelina Kamal

    Adelina Kamal

    Humanitarian, disaster management practitioner and international policy development strategist

    Adelina Kamal is a humanitarian, a disaster management practitioner and an international policy development strategist, with more than a quarter century experience with ASEAN. Adelina led the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre) for almost five years as its first female Executive Director from 2017 to August 2021, and prior to that, worked with the ASEAN Secretariat for over two decades.

    Since leaving the AHA Centre, Adelina has been consulting for governments, international and regional organisations. In 2022, Adelina was affiliated with Singapore-based ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute as Associate Senior Fellow where she was advocating for out-of-the box approaches to humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. Adelina has written and advocated extensively on issues that she is passionate about, such as localising humanitarian action, an alternative ASEAN’s approach for the Myanmar crisis, the need for transformative leadership for crisis management in ASEAN, humanitarian resistance in Myanmar, and the Myanmar’s neglected crisis. Her articles can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

    Adelina holds a Master’s degree in Management from IPMI Business School in Indonesia, an MBA from Monash University in Australia, and a Bachelor degree in Management from Trisakti University in Indonesia.

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