AidEx Brussels

14th-15th November 2018

Read our Communications Manager, Yasmine Bettine's* summary of the AidEx Brussels conference 

Last week over 2000 delegations from organisations across the humanitarian aid and international development sector made their way to Brussels to meet, network and discuss the sector’s current challenges.

Now, in its eighth year, AidEx aims to improve aid results by facilitating discussion, debate and networking. This year’s theme was Revolution in the digital age: safeguarding a future for all. How can technology contribute to a positive social impact?







As the Communications Manager of CDR, I was invited to participate in the Communications and Safeguarding workshop, held by 89up on the second day which was advertised as a means for those working in the sector to improve their PR and reputational management skills.

In the morning, attendees of the communications workshop had the privilege of listening to Asmita Naik, Hannah Clare and Alexia Pepper de Caires speak about their experiences of fighting against sexual abuse and exploitation within the sector. They were passionate and stimulating speakers. This session also included a valuable exchange of practical advice on a personal level of how best to deal with the pressures of being or working with whistle-blowers and/or witnesses, which included techniques which can be applied, even if not working in such conditions. The primary takeaway is that organisations must ensure that communications teams play a role throughout the lifecycle of a story, and that organisations show humility.




















In the wider conference, keynotes speakers gave insightful and inspiring speeches which focused on how the sector can use tech, but they generally avoided drilling down into the challenges and opportunities that digitalisation can have for development. For example, whilst being insightful, in Sir Simon O’Brien’s talk on using digitalisation to enable better SDG results, his main messages were calls to the international community to prevent conflict before it begins, in order to prevent people needing aid in the first place. He also noted that the young are driving innovation within the aid sector. This includes entrepreneurs from the private sector who are using the SDG framework to shape their strategies and value propositions. Finally, he called for the use of data to monitor progress and impacts in order to underpin political arguments and to support the moral argument for international aid.


On the contrary, the more practical insights came from practitioners and NGO workers who could share best practices and provide concrete examples of work they’ve undertaken, or lessons learned on the ground. Their enthusiasm and passion were certainly a breath of fresh air – especially in the stuffy auditoriums of Brussels Expo!


Sir Simon O'Brien during his keynote speech

The winner of UN Women's cartoon comic competition in Indonesia, exhibited at AidEx 2018

*This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views and positions of CDR, nor does this comprise an endorsement of the views contained in the article

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