The annual European Forum Alpbach is a high-level interdisciplinary conference platform for science, politics, business and culture.

In the framework of the European Forum Alpbach, OCHA, in cooperation with the Austrian Ministry of Interior, the Civil Protection Authority of the Province of Tyrol, the Italian Civil Protection Department and the Luxemburg Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs, organised a retreat and a public panel on ““Interoperability in Humanitarian Response: From Coexistence to Cooperation” from 29 to 31 August 2015.Over the course of the workshops, 30 experts from academia, disaster response agencies, private sector, EU, UN organizations and governments discussed efforts to optimize humanitarian response to the needs of affected people by making systems – such as NGOs, private sector, military, diaspora communities, local and regional organisations – which are very different work better together in a predictable way. The leading question of the workshop was how to best institutionalize good examples of humanitarian interoperability and how to move the overall concept from theory to practice. The discussion included the role of clusters as potential “brokers” in interoperability (such as for example the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster to identify and address gaps with the private sector), discussions on leadership in planning and implementing humanitarian interoperability (who enables interoperability?), the importance of and challenges in interoperability in emergency preparedness (such as for example through involvement of civil protection/military), information management and the use of new technologies, as well as how to localize or nationalize humanitarian action for improved humanitarian response.

Photo Credit: European Forum Alpbach