After three years in Geneva, Switzerland, the 2009 annual International Aid & Trade forum is coming to Washington, July 9-10.
Event organizers have teamed up with InterAction to bring together more than 1,500 key international stakeholders from the humanitarian relief, aid and development sectors to share knowledge and network with the suppliers of essential goods and services.
"It's a trade show with integrated workshop sessions, and we are getting more of the corporate sector involved," International Aid & Trade Director Sula Bruce said. "We are much more focused on solutions. We have been very broad in the past, and this year we have decided to focus on procurement and logistics."
Specific sessions will focus on how to work with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the United Nations. The Caribbean and Latin America are also likely to play a large role in the discussions.
"Being in the U.S., it's looking like there will be more of a focus on the Caribbean and Latin America than there has been in the past," Bruce argued. "And there may be some learning to be had from operations in the Americas that could be beneficial for people operating in Africa."
This year's forum will feature roundtable discussions as well as formal informational presentations by experts. Workshop topics span a wide spectrum - from insurance to disaster communications and the role of media in relief operations. A session on securing financing in an economic downturn will feature a senior vice president with the World Bank and Afghanistan's minister of commerce and industry.
"We have decided to try and make the event more interactive, where two-thirds of the workshops will be in round-table format, including speakers from NGOs, the U.N., government, as well as the corporate sectors coming together with different approaches," Bruce said. "So, it should make for interesting debate."
One hot topic will be the security of aid workers, Bruce indicated. Some 122 aid workers were reported killed in 2008, making it the deadliest year on record for humanitarian professionals.