Finding the Uncomfortable Solution: Responsible Innovation in Humanitarian Energy

Research output: Working paper/PreprintWorking paper


In response to the increasing number of displaced people, the humanitarian sector is exploring innovation as a framework to improve the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Traditionally, the focus on camp settings and short term solutions have resulted in a humanitarian response that is slow to adapt to the rapidity of technological innovation (Betts and Bloom, 2014). For example, 87.8% of African’s in Sub-Saharan Africa have a mobile phone (World Bank, 2019), yet 80% of displaced people living in camps in this same region still cook over open fires which are linked to long term health and environmental effects (Grafham and Lahn, 2018).

As a result of the lessons learned from the Humanitarian Engineering and Energy for Displacement (HEED) project around the different perceptions of innovation between key energy stakeholders, this paper looks to engage with questions around ensuring innovation in the humanitarian sector, and more specifically humanitarian energy, is responsible. How can we define responsible? Is responsible innovation a theoretical nicety or can it ensure a just energy transition as outlined by the SDGs? What does responsible innovation look like in reality? Building to our underlying research question: what is the state-of-the-art in responsible innovation for humanitarian energy and how is it implemented at project level?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2021


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