The Australian Government created the innovationXchange (IXc) within our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
It is overseen by an International Reference Group, which brings together high calibre Australian and international philanthropists, thinkers, and corporate leaders.
A practical manifestation of the work we have done is through the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge, where we have sought to try and identify innovative ways we can deal with humanitarian crises in the Pacific area.
Our belief is that innovation has to be embedded within the existing humanitarian system and we have sought to particularly focus on assisting our Pacific partners to respond to natural disasters.
Of course the Pacific is unique and very vulnerable to disasters, with populations spread over vast areas. We’ve seen this recently with Cyclone Winston and Cyclone Pam.
We’ve already seen returns on our investment.
For example, recently in Cyclone Pam, we had an SMS alert system which was powered by Digicel, which allowed the Vanuatu government to warn remote communities of the cyclone last year, and thereby helping to reduce loss of life.
As part of this Challenge, we went out to the world and asked different organisations, governments, national disaster management offices to partner with us on their ideas.
What was really heartening was the diversity of the ideas we got from around the world.
We had 129 submissions from five different continents and 30 countries.
We are going to have a video at the end that looks at some of those winning ideas.
We know that these winning ideas – and they’re going to be piloted over the next year in the Pacific – are going to help communities to bounce back after these disasters.
We see this as an area where the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation (GAHI) can lend capacity and expertise to support the outcomes of the Challenge.
By assisting us to scale up innovations that we might successfully pilot in the Pacific, we can adapt those to other regions where they can further strengthen humanitarian response.
With this in mind, I want to acknowledge the significant potential of the GAHI to drive innovation and announce our intention to join the GAHI and commit $450,000 to the initiative over three years to 2019.
We are also pleased to partner with the Global Humanitarian Lab to accelerate and test innovative technologies.
We see this as a practical way to collaborate with our partners and the private sector to find concrete solutions to help in humanitarian crises.
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