“… purpose of an encyclopedia is to collect knowledge disseminated around the globe; to set forth its general system to the men with whom we live, and transmit it to those who will come after us, so that the work of preceding centuries will not become useless to the centuries to come; and so that our offspring, becoming better instructed, will at the same time become more virtuous and happy, and that we should not die without having rendered a service to the human race in the future years to come”Diderot

The Humanitarian Encyclopedia is a collaborative project with humanitarian and academic partners, based on co-creation, combining theory and practice to support the growing ranks of humanitarian stakeholders in their strategic thinking, design and implementation of humanitarian responses.

It responds to the documented need to interrogate how terms and concepts used in humanitarian action are understood and applied across time, cultures, and organizations. This shall support the reflective involvement of an expanding range of stakeholders while building on the existing theoretical and empirical knowledge and practical experiences at local and regional levels.

The specific objective is to ensure that by 2021, the Humanitarian Encyclopedia engages a broad constituency of local, regional and global humanitarian actors, and brings about more reflective, effective and innovative humanitarian action while constituting a milestone in the scholarship of contemporary humanitarian studies.

By assessing different meanings, perceptions, uses and applications of terms and concepts and by engaging humanitarian stakeholders in reflecting and building on these through an innovative knowledge-sharing platform, the Humanitarian Encyclopedia will be:

An incubator
Articulating past and current scientific and empirical knowledge, the Humanitarian Encyclopedia will explore the different ways key humanitarian concepts are understood and used across time, disciplines, cultures, contexts and organizations.

A bridge
Between scholars and practitioners, populations and organizations, organizations and donors, humanitarian insiders and outsiders, from different organizational and cultural backgrounds.

A space to co-create
Recognising the knowledge heritage outside and within the sector, building from it and transforming it.

An innovative platform
A space to capture and confront existing knowledge, access different resources and research findings, and to generate new learnings.

After completing the incubation phase, the Encyclopedia project is envisaged as a 5-year project cycle from July 2017 to June 2022.