DAVOS, Switzerland — The Alpine village of Davos, Switzerland, is quite a contrast to the contexts where the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps tends to work. Chief Executive Officer Neal Keny-Guyer spent a few days at the World Economic Forum annual meetings there last month, in between trips to Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was his 10th year in Davos, and he makes sure to travel to the Swiss mountain town from one of the 43 countries where the NGO works to put things in perspective.
What brings Keny-Guyer back to Davos year after year is the opportunity to build new partnerships between government, business, and civil society. Violence has become the driving force behind most human suffering, he explains. And his call to action at the WEF meetings this year was to tackle the conflict reshaping the world by mitigating long standing grievances, supporting good governance, and promoting inclusive economic growth.
Devex caught up with Keny-Guyer to get his take on the 2018 meetings, and to talk more about how Mercy Corps is dealing with some of the dynamics on the agenda, such as the risks and opportunities of emerging technology. The interview here has been edited for length and clarity.
You spoke on a panel here in Davos with Cisco and NetHope on technology and innovation in humanitarian response, and we were interested to hear about your partnerships with companies including Palantir. Can you expand on some of the corporate partnerships you’re excited about and the approach you’ve taken in working with these companies?