Humanitarian needs caused by conflicts and violence – worsened by extreme climate events and the COVID19 pandemic – are at a record high. On the other hand, emerging technologies affect entire sectors and will have long-lasting positive effects on many aspects of human well-being and prosperity.
However, vulnerable populations, particulary people affected by conflict, too often do not benefit from this increasing pace of innovation. Thus, the Engineering for Humanitarian Action (EHA) initiative is driven by its partners’ conviction that science and technology have the potential to contribute to bridging this gap and that the unique Swiss ecosystem can spearhead this endeavour.
EHA is a partnership between both Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Zurich and EPFL) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to develop innovative solutions for a greater impact of humanitarian action. The programme consists of 3 main components: joint research projects; development, testing and implementation of innovative solutions; and educational programmes.
This initiative is managed by ETH for Development (ETH4D) at ETHZ and the EssentialTech Center at the EPFL. ETH4D links researchers from engineering, natural and social sciences with civil society, NGOs, governments and industry to develop and scale innovations for the global population. The mission of the EPFL EssentialTech Center is to harness science and technology to drive sustainable development, support humanitarian action and foster peace.
Established in 1863 and at the origin of the modern conception of humanitarian action, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) operates worldwide, helping people affected by conflict and armed violence and promoting the laws that protect victims of war. An independent and neutral organisation, its mandate stems essentially from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The ICRC is committed to leveraging technological innovation and the sciences to ensure its actions remain suitable, efficient and inclusive, in step with social and scientific developments.