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CRITICAL SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE: Offering safe access to housing and vital resources, enabling access to timely information and ensuring health services for the chronically ill, our tools have offered critical support for over 1 million refugees. Find out more.

„We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For"

Keynote speech by our founder and chairperson, Bogdan Ivănel, delivered at Commit Global’s launch, in the Hague, September 14th, 2023.

“We wish we had this back in Lebanon” were the words of the regional head of the UNHCR when he first witnessed our humanitarian infrastructure at work in support of Ukrainian refugees.

Lebanon and Afghanistan. Syria and Ukraine.

Ethiopia and Sudan.

The headlines are chasing each other out. On Saturday it was Morocco, on Tuesday it was Libya. 

The fact that we live in a time of systemic crises is not a matter of perception anymore. Social cleavages are running even deeper and more violent than before, democracy is on the retreat, humanitarian emergencies are proliferating around the world and the existential threat of climate change is exponentially showing its claws. As a collective effect of all these crises larger chunks of the world population are becoming vulnerable and need our collective help.

It increasingly feels like a race we cannot win and yet we consistently underuse and misuse the most effective scaling mechanism of today: technology. We have seen it scale businesses, we have seen it scale profit, we have seen it scale crime and autocracy. If we are to win the race against the global crises we have to see it scale the power of the good guys, of our civil society and first responders.

We have shown that well designed, well built technology deployed with attention to the needs of those on the ground can save lives, and not only can it save lives, but it saves and protects lives at scale.

My colleagues are giving out one of the many essentials you take for granted: a bottle of water.
Let’s think a bit about this.

For those left vulnerable by life, by war or by disaster water is more vital than ever. Donating the water they need does not solve the problem, does it?

It needs to get to the thirsty, wherever they are.

But where are they? Are you really able to locate all those in need? Are they able to locate you? Are they able to ask for help?

Our aid management solutions make sure these needs are efficiently mapped on the ground, and water gets to all those who need it and is not wasted in the process.

In times of trouble Our Infrastructure for good becomes a lifeline: It connects thirst with water,

It connects the homeless with empty beds, It connects the sick with healthcare,

It connects the lost and scared to vital information.

Creating not only scale and efficiency in accessing services, but traceability and integration, while placing the beneficiary at the center of these ecosystems.

We have shown that well designed, well built technology deployed with attention to the needs of those on the ground can save lives, and not only can it save lives, but it saves and protects lives at scale.

Since I started talking a few minutes ago, over a dozen Ukrainian families accessed these vital services through the humanitarian infrastructure we set up in just 48 hours last year and we deployed for free in support of government, NGOs and UN agencies. This is the proof of scale that only technology can unlock.

It is now needed in Lebanon. In Afghanistan and Sudan.

In Yemen and Ethiopia and everywhere else. In Libya and Morocco.

In The Netherlands and Spain.

Our vision is of a shared Infrastructure for Good.

A civic infrastructure that offers every NGO around the world the basic solutions they need to manage their affairs effectively, from raising donations to making sense of their data, from building a website or managing their volunteers to managing their finances, so that they can focus on what really matters: their mission and their intervention on the ground. This set of 18 solutions is just being deployed in Romania, Moldova and Georgia as we speak.

A civic infrastructure that enables activists and journalists to defend their communities and democracy, to bring about more transparency and ensure free and fair elections. Next year, for the first time ever, our civic infrastructure will enable vote monitoring across the entire Union for the European Elections.

A humanitarian infrastructure that offers refugees a 360 degrees support mechanism that keeps them out of harm's way like it does at Ukraine’s border right now.

A humanitarian infrastructure that enables efficient disaster relief management anywhere in the world. My colleagues are working right now with the Moroccan to deploy vital help.

A humanitarian infrastructure ensuring protection for the most vulnerable among us.

Finally, a climate infrastructure that accelerates our understanding of the crisis while scaling the capacity to respond.

We cannot do it, we cannot solve these crises without harnessing the power of technology. Our mission is to do exactly that, to consolidate, build and deploy this vital digital infrastructure and do the hard work of maintaining it day in and day out in support of NGOs, international organizations, UN agencies and governmental bodies around the world.

Why shared? Because we shouldn’t continue to duplicate efforts at a cost that we cannot afford. We all work in the public service. And in a world where our response capacity is stretched to the maximum and very often have to choose between saving lives in Afghanistan or saving lives in Ukraine, technology is the one resource that can be shared among multiple stakeholders and among different geographies. The same case management system for the chronically ill can be used by UNICEF and Save the Children and by every other big or small charity that does similar work around the world. Our shelter management solution can be used side by side by UNHCR, IOM, Red Cross, Governments and Habitat for Humanity as it is right now the case at Ukraine’s border. A secured evidence collection system can be used by International Courts, election observers or post disaster data collectors. We don’t need and we shouldn’t build the same digital infrastructure 70 times or 300 times and maintain it 300 times when we can build and maintain it once and deploy it to all the organizations that need it.

The advantage is not only lower costs, but less vulnerability, common standards, common data models and single entry points for the beneficiaries no matter whose services they access. The by-products are more traceability, accountability, transparency and respect for public money.

This is the 5th gear that has been eluding us for so many years in the fight with the global crises.

We cannot afford anymore to not become strategic about the use of technology for good.

We cannot afford to continue to work in silos without a global mechanism in place. We cannot afford to continue without a shared Infrastructure for Good: civic, humanitarian, environmental.

We have to access this 5th gear now, while it is not too late.

And for that we need a Red Cross of the 21st century: Commit Global.

But however dedicated we might be, we can’t achieve something so ambitious without equally audacious and visionary partners.

We were mentioning the Red Cross, an organization that has not only become synonymous with its host city and country, but that has always walked shoulder to shoulder with Geneva and Switzerland.

What made us feel in The Netherlands and in The Hague like in no other place is the fact that we haven’t only found a host city and a host country, but true partners, ready to coordinate and build together with us. A partner that we never had to convince of the vision or its merits and urgency, but with whom we have a shared approach and vision, and with whom we can access this 5th gear for the benefit of all humanity.

Thank you for making this commitment. 

It seems it is now up to us: together. The Hague, The Netherlands, Commit Global and the entire ecosystem of social change in this amazing city and country.

It is up to us.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

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