ALNAP ICRC Webinar | Navigating complexity: Getting real with systems thinking in humanitarian response

5 April 2023
13:00 - 14:30, GMT

We all know that humanitarian crises are complex and that most humanitarian responses rely on simplifications– sector silos, a focus on individual agency projects – which can undermine relevant and effective responses.  Systems thinking tools have been promoted as a way to embrace and navigate these complexities. But these approaches can, at best, seem difficult to apply in time-poor humanitarian responses or at worst, are overly abstract and impractical.

In recent years, more humanitarian actors have adopted systems thinking approaches, using them practically to improve urban resilience in Gaza, help pastoralists manage their livestock through drought in the Sahel, and strengthen contextual analysis and predict conflict.

This webinar explored the practical applications of systems thinking from leading practitioners and thinkers, review the impact of these applications, and offer ideas for how humanitarian can apply the tools in their own work.

  • Alice Obrecht | Head of Research & Impact, ALNAP
  • Federico Sittaro | Deputy Head Analysis & Evidence Unit, ICRC 


  • Tristan Downing | System dynamic analyst, MIT fellow
  • Alexandre Gachoud | Economic Security Unit, Cash, Income & Markets, ICRC 
  • Tammo Van Gastel | Gaza Resilience Programme Manager, ICRC 
  • Francesca Giovinazzo | Team Leader of CrisisInSight team, ACAPS
  • Emma Houiellebecq | PhD candidate in Systems mapping for Infrastructure Resilience, Cambridge
  • Ben Ramalingam | Director of Strategy, British Red Cross


13:00 – 13:05     Welcoming remarks
13:05 – 13:13     Overview of systems thinking approaches in humanitarian action
13:15 – 13:48     Presentations on practical applications of systems thinking approaches and panel discussion
13:50 – 14:30     Q&A