Since the landmark General Assembly resolution 46/182, the international humanitarian system has grown and evolved tremendously. The humanitarian caseload has increased due to new and protracted complex emergencies and conflict, natural disasters occur with more frequency and intensity, and global challenges increase vulnerability and create new or exacerbate existing humanitarian needs. In addition, the operating environment for humanitarian actors has also become increasingly complex.

The UN Economic and Social Council provides a unique opportunity for Member States to address such challenges and support operational and normative progress on the humanitarian policy agenda. More specifically, since 1998, the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment (HAS) has become an essential platform for discussing the activities and issues related to strengthening the coordination of the humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. This forum enables Member States to engage with the UN and non-UN humanitarian and development community, the private sector, affected people and other actors from a range of geographic groups on current humanitarian challenges.

This year’s Segment will take place from 15 to 17 July 2013 in Geneva Palais des Nations and look at The future of humanitarian affairs: towards greater inclusiveness, coordination, interoperability and effectiveness. The HAS will also include two main high-level panel discussions on: a) Reducing vulnerability, improving capacities and managing risks: an approach for humanitarian and development actors to work together, and b) Promoting humanitarian innovation for improved response.

In the margins, some 20 side-events will provide participants with up-to-date information on current humanitarian issues, opportunities and challenges as highlighted by humanitarian and private sector counterparts, as well as by Member States and the civil society. For the first time this year, a trade fair will additionally showcase, in the halls of the Palais des Nations, innovative initiatives and new thinking.

The annual, informal ECOSOC event on the transition from relief to development also constitutes an important opportunity to discuss the issue of transition.