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The conference happened on 28th and 29th September 2017 in Brussels.

The programme was organised around two themes, namely:

  • Effective social protection in fragile contexts;
  • The needs of forcibly displaced populations and host communities, and the role of social protection. 

Across both themes, there were a strong focus on building synergies across the development and humanitarian divide, including lessons for governments, humanitarian and development actors, including donors.

The two themes were first discussed in three parallel sessions, each addressing key questions identified within the overarching theme. These parallel sessions will explore the guiding questions through presentations based on practitioners’ experiences and original research, and will be followed by discussion. The themes explored will then be examined further in plenary panel discussions, to draw out commonalities, lessons learned and conclusions. Over the course of the conference, an outcome document highlighting key lessons and learning emerging from the discussions was also elaborated and agreed upon, serving future advocacy goals.  

A high-level panel comprising officials of national governments and international institutions kicked off the conference, setting the tone for the subsequent discussion. Towards the end of the conference, a high-calibre key note speaker reflected on the role of evidence to better inform effective policy making during humanitarian calamities. Finally, the Speed Networking sessions which are intended to be lively and interactive forums where conference participants from any organisation can present and share their experiences, or projects at any stage of the project cycle.

The format of the conference was expected to bring together lessons from high quality research with concrete policy responses while adding the operational dimension and challenges to the debate. This approach is consistent with the emphasis of the conference in reflecting how evidence-based and learning from experience can be used to develop social protection solutions in contexts of crisis, be it caused by a sudden disaster or by protracted contexts of extreme fragility. And it does so in a way that combines alternative ways to deliver knowledge sharing to a heterogeneous audience.