The World population has almost tripled from 2.5 billion people in 1950 to 7.7 billion in 2019. This global growth is taking place unevenly across the world. While the population of African countries is steadily increasing, many industrialized countries are seeing a decline as they fail to reach replacement rates.

Key Insight

  • Least developed countries will continue to experience rapid population growth, which will exacerbate humanitarian situations.

Urbanization And Its Stakes

As of 2018, 55.7% of the world population lives in urban areas. Urbanization is the “process by which a large number of people becomes permanently concentrated in relatively small areas, forming cities”.

Key Insights

  • Some megacities in proximity to protracted crises will become the critical economic, political, transport/logistics and regional hubs

  • "Slumification" and proliferation of shanty towns will become a major concern for humanitarian stakeholders

Poverty Around The World

A household is considered poor when their total income is inadequate to acquire the resources necessary to meet locally established standards. The international poverty line was originally set at people making less $1 a day, to account for changes in PPP this figure has risen to $1.90 a day as of October 2015. It is estimated that in 2015 there were 702 million people living in extreme poverty. Though extreme poverty is declining, primarily thanks to economic growth in China and India, it remains an important challenge particularly in fragile countries of the sub-Saharan region. In line with current trends, the target of the first Sustainable Development Goal, to “end extreme poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030”, will be difficult to achieve. 

Key Insight

By 2030, poverty will remain mainly concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South 

Climate Change

Climate Change

Global surface temperatures rose 0.74°C between 1906 and 20051. 2016 was the warmest year on record. Climate change has already begun affecting ecosystems, human populations, and historical weather patterns and is likely to continue to do so in years to come. The effects of climate change are likely to continue exacerbate humanitarian needs worldwide.

Key Insights

  • Climate change will prevent people from escaping poverty and will push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty

  • Climate change will become a new issue for human rights and justice

Food And Agriculture

Economic progress, notably in the emerging economies, and demographic rise will lead to increasing demand for food. At present, 795 million people suffer from undernourishment, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Future agricultural production will need to be more productive and sustainable while concurrently working to meet the needs of those suffering from hunger and the future increase demand.

Key Insight

  • There will be growth in global production levels but this will not necessarily translate to greater access to food

Violent Conflict

Conflict can be broadly defined as “any situation in which parties perceive they have incompatible goals”. However, violent conflict here will be narrowly defined as a form of conflict where parties engage in physical force, resulting in a loss of life, to advance their objectives. Conflicts can be intra-state, inter-state or multi-state.

Key Insight

  • The entrenched nature of conflict means humanitarian responses will need to be strategic in the long-term to reduce community vulnerability


There are over one hundred legal definitions of terrorism and little international agreement on how to interpret the term. To be comprehensive: terrorism is “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”

“Groups that are designated as terrorist organizations by states and international organizations are not monolithic. They are not shaped by the tactics that they employ but by their objectives, culture, operating environment and ideology”.

Key insights

  • Terror attacks will mainly impact the most fragile areas, deepening or prolonging insecurity

International Legal Frame

The international legal frame sets a number of rules globally regarded as binding the relations between states. In the humanitarian context it sets the rules of humanitarian intervention and protection of populations in an armed conflict situation. Recent evolutions in the international legal framework are making the operating environment increasingly challenging for the humanitarian sector. This situation is reinforced by the divergent behavior of states regarding international norms.

Key insights

  • Increasing divergence in the behavior of states will undermine the customary nature of many international norms.

  • Private and informal international actors will develop new forms of rulemaking


The reach of technology has expended considerably since the beginning of the 20th century and more particularly since the 1990s. The use of technology is ever-growing and in industrialized countries permeates almost every single sector of people lives. Currently, basic technologies are accessible to the majority of the world population. Technologies can include basic and everyday objects such as cars, coffee machines or credit cards while new technologies range from nanotechnology, smartphones, drones and 3D printers to artificial intelligence. Developments in information and communication technology have the most extend. In 2016 ICT services are becoming increasingly affordable and covering ever larger areas, available to two-thirds of the world’s population. This extensive development is advancing progress towards goal 9 of the SDGs which seeks to “Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”.

Key Insight

  • The use of new technologies and their increasing availability will have major “transformative consequences” for the humanitarian sector.

Political Instability

Political instability will be defined in broad terms, encompassing the likelihood of sustained civil disobedience or protests resulting in a weakening of a government’s legitimacy, the potential loss of trust in governance structures or processes, and the propensity for irregular regime change (e.g. assassinations or coups).

Key Insights

  • By 2030, the countries currently facing political crises will mostly be the same as in the 2010-2015 period

  • By 2030, the impact of demographic growth and climate change will compound political instability resulting in a concentration of fragility in areas where multiple vulnerabilities intersect.

  • By 2030, western countries could face significant political tensions resulting in humanitarian crises

New Waves Of Nationalism

Nationalism is a shared sense of group identity and desire for political self-determination. It is generally described as having two forms: civic nationalism and ethnic nationalism. In the former, group membership is open to individuals who share in the principals and values of the nation. In ethnic nationalism, group membership is limited only to individuals who share the same ethnic, religious, linguistic, or similar cultural category. The following report shall focus on this latter form of nationalism as it has become more prevalent in the 21st C. and its exclusionary politics can result in humanitarian crises.

Key Insights

  • By 2030, nationalist parties and policies will be part of mainstream politics

  • By 2030, nationalism challenges the international order

The Resurgence Of Sovereignty And Political Centrality Of Humanitarian Crisis

The Resurgence Of Sovereignty And Political Centrality Of Humanitarian Crises


A resurgence of sovereignty in countries affected by humanitarian crises leads to increasing control over humanitarian assistance activities. Implementation of restriction measures and even denial of access for NGO’s, particularly INGO’s, becomes more frequent. Consequently, there are increasing obstacles against the participation of NGOs which could be to the detriment of affected populations in need of adequate support if not provided by the government or private sector. 

Key Insights 

  • By 2030, governments of humanitarian crisis-affected states will be more inclined to resist external intervention, and will prefer more localized approaches.

  • By 2030, humanitarian crises will become increasingly political.

Disasters Incurred by Natural Hazards

The impact of disasters incurred by natural hazards on ecosystems has grown (number of people involved, global cost, etc.) due to a combination of population growth, settlement patterns, and the increasing frequency of events (floods, storms, heat waves, etc.). Between 1994 and 2013, natural disasters have claimed 606 000 lives, representing an average of 30 000 lives every year1 and impacting one billion more. Disasters incurred by natural hazards lead to displacement, exacerbate health and economic vulnerabilities, and disrupt ecosystems. Natural disasters often worsen the situation of already fragile populations.

Key Insight

  • By 2030 there will be a consistent increase in the impact of natural disasters and an exacerbation of humanitarian issues.


Epidemics are rapid increases in the incidence of disease. When an epidemic affects a large number of people across multiple countries or continents it is then known as a pandemic. In the 19th and early 20th century, there was great progress in the fight against infectious diseases. However, since the second half of the 20th century an emergence of new infectious diseases has been observed, such as HIV/AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), H1N1 influenza, Ebola, and Zika. In 2012, infectious diseases still accounted for almost one third of global deaths (32%). Every year, more than 14 million people die because of infectious diseases disrupting the economic, political, and societal environment in areas affected.

Key Insight

  • By 2030, extant diseases will be compounded by new infections and diseases

Large-Scale Forced Migration and the Intensification and Increased Scale of Humanitarian Crises

Persecution, conflict, insecurity and climate change have forced people to flee their homes in record numbers. For decades, the multiplication of crises and the increasingly protracted nature of displacement has led a growing number of refugees worldwide. In 2017 there were approximately 25.4 million refugees who fled their country of origin and 40 million people who are internally displaced; 3.1 million are asylum-seekers.

Key Insights

  •  By 2030, displaced people will become the fastest growing subgroup in humanitarian need.

  • By 2030, humanitarian stakeholders will focus more on strengthening the resilience of host communities

  • By 2030, the migration agenda will be increasingly securitized

  • By 2030, the legal framework for the protection of displaced communities will be out dated and unable to address the vulnerability of particular categories of people on the move

Acceleration Of Alliances: A Networked Way of Working

By 2030, stakeholders will increasingly create alliances, integrate their structures for mutual benefit, and build on shared interests and objectives. An acceleration of alliances between NGOs and new actors will create a networked way of working in the humanitarian system, creating interdependence and strengthening connections between actors.

Key insights

  • NGOs will have to be part of more diverse alliances to continue to be relevant and access resources

  • Alliances will be among organizations with similar objectives though they are still likely to face the challenge of cultural tensions

Decentralization Of INGOs: Toward Federation

Decentralization is the process of transferring administrative powers from a central authority to regional or local offices.1 The process is intended to improve NGO operations by making them more efficient, responsive, and adaptable. Decentralization typically can be described as taking three forms:

Localization – where representatives of the central authority are relocated from the headquarters to regional or local offices. Some management and financial responsibilities are similarly redistributed, but broader authority remains centralized.

Delegation – where management and financial responsibilities are transferred to semi- autonomous regional or local offices.

Devolution – where administrative responsibilities and authority are relinquished by the central authority to autonomous regional or local offices. This form can lead to federation, in which an organization’s administrative powers are constitutionally divided between the central authority and regional or local authorities, the latter having extensive authority over their own operations and finances.

Key insights:

  • INGOs are increasingly shifting toward a more decentralized, local control

  • The humanitarian sector will shift away from the historical Western-centric model

The Rise Of Faith-Based NGOs And Local NGOs

With the proliferation of civil society actors, faith-based and local NGOs are becoming more visible in the humanitarian sector, increasing their financial capacity, presence on the field, and media exposure.

Faith-based NGOs or faith-based organizations are defined as non-state actors that have a religion or faith as core to their philosophy, membership, or programmatic approach, although they are not necessarily missionaries. While there is no generally accepted definition of faith-based NGOs, they are characterized by having one or more of the following: “affiliation with a religious body; a mission statement with explicit reference to religious values; financial support from religious sources; and/or a governance structure where selection of board members or staff is based on religious beliefs or affiliation and/or decision-making processes based on religious values.”

Key insights

  • Southern-based NGOs will be recognized as system leaders

  • Increased importance will be placed on the role of faith-based organizations

  • Humanitarian actors will become increasingly differentiated as local and faith- based NGOs dominate direct implementation of humanitarian programming

Humanitarian Workers Of Tomorrow

The OCHA definition of humanitarian worker “includes all workers engaged by humanitarian agencies, whether internationally or nationally recruited, or formally or informally retained from the beneficiary community, to conduct the activities of that agency.” There were over 450,000 humanitarian aid workers in 2015.

Key insights

  • The proportion of expatriate humanitarian workers will decrease, increasing the diversity of perspectives in management and decision-making

  • Pervasive insecurity for humanitarian workers in conflict contexts

The Role Of Private Companies & Foundations

Private sector actors refer to for-profit corporations and their philanthropic branches, foundations, and trusts. Private sector actors are implicated in the humanitarian sector as funders of humanitarian action, supporters of humanitarian organizations, and as direct implementers.

Key insights

  • Aid is everyone’s business

  • Private sector actors operate in their own right

  • A marketplace