Chris Earney, co-leader of UNHCR Innovation, has quite a few things to be excited about these days. The first batch of iFellows — the first innovation fellowship program within the United Nations family — will graduate at the end of September. The U.N. refugee agency is also now preparing to manufacture what could be the next-generation shelters for refugees.
Born November 2012, UNHCR Innovation also has thriving partnerships. In fact, much of its work, as we’ve previously reported, involves collaboration with private organizations such as the Ikea Foundation, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard Co., as well as with academic institutions and other U.N. agencies.
“We've been fortunate enough to sort on partner on with great organizations and with great colleagues inside UNHCR,” Earney told Devex. “There has been a lot of support for this initiative.”
That being said, there were qualms about formalizing an innovation program within the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. The sentiments were understandable, Earney said, as innovation, by its nature, seeks to challenge the norms.