Dear Friends of Sphere,
What a remarkable year! Not only did we launch the new edition of the Sphere Handbook after historic levels of consultations, we also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Sphere movement and how it has transformed the humanitarian sector. None of this would have been possible without the commitment of so many of you. It is because of the thousands of practitioners, advocates, partners and donors around the world that Sphere has truly transformed into a global community of shared purpose. Thank you for the work you do every day.
The fourth edition of the Handbook, launched in November, was a culmination of these efforts and brought the power of the Sphere network to light. It is the result of the most far-reaching and inclusive global consultation process in Sphere’s history, with direct feedback from practitioners working for at least 450 organisations in more than 65 countries.
To meet the needs of an increasingly diverse community of users, the Handbook was designed to be more accessible in language and format. The Handbook is printed, online and interactive and we will be continuing the momentum by creating a platform in 2019 for practitioners to contribute their own learning and expertise in real time.
Following the global launch of the Handbook in Geneva, Sphere Focal Points and partners quickly took the opportunity to share it back with their own communities. You can read more about events which took place in Afghanistan, Germany, Indonesia, Spain, South Korea, Pakistan and Thailand in the annual report. Many more events are planned for 2019, so please check our online calendar!
For the first time in our history, Sphere launched an open call for membership this year. All founding members renewed their membership and 35 new organisations joined, along with 50 individual practitioners. In November, the General Assembly elected the new Executive Committee and voted Colin Rogers of Plan International as President.
Sphere’s voluntary Focal Points network is a vital contribution to quality and accountability. In 2018, we welcomed five new Focal Points from China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Syria and Yemen, growing the total to 55 globally. Their work to advocate, train and promote Sphere locally and regionally is essential for implementing the standards in context.
The Humanitarian Standards Partnership, a platform for cross-sectoral collaboration of standard-setting initiatives, also grew to include important work on the inclusion of older people and people with disabilities in humanitarian operations.
We are looking forward to an exciting year ahead with all of you, building on the achievements of 2018. With an expanded network, new and updated training tools, user-generated learning and an increasingly diverse community of humanitarian practitioners, Sphere stands ready to support your own work to improve quality and accountability. Most importantly, we will continue fostering lively exchange with practitioners to bring the Sphere standards to life.
We look forward to continuing this important work together!