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Virtual Proximity: How to Create Digital Trust and Engagement in Remotely Controlled / Insecure Environments


The Geneva leg of the “Open Situation Rooms” will take place on 21 March at the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva and will explore the drivers of trust in a digital environment and how new digital tools and connectivity can help humanitarian organisations gain access to people and communities in need that are otherwise out of reach.

In situations of armed conflict or violence, humanitarian organisations have for decades based their operating model on physical proximity. However, in a world where conflicts have become more complex and where humanitarian crises are on the rise, access and security are posing important challenges to humanitarian organisations.

Today’s increased connectivity allows aid agencies to engage with people remotely via messaging apps, social media, SMS, etc. and thus opens doors to new opportunities when a physical presence is not possible.

Yet these technologies also pose a series of challenges: how can we ensure the security of people who engage with humanitarian organisations? How can we protect their personal data and information? How should we deal with propaganda and fake news? Ultimately, how can we build trust between organisations and people?

The Open Situation room will be moderated by Florian Egli (photo), board member of foraus and Philippe Stoll, Deputy Head of Public Communication at the ICRC. Florian Egli has, together with GDL Member Nicola Forster, conceptulised the Humanitarian Diplomacy Lab and is actively engaged in developing foraus global

 Download the flyer of the event.

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Nicola Forster

Nicola Forster is the Founding President of the Swiss crowdsourced think tank foraus (Forum Aussenpolitik) as well as a social entrepreneur and public sector innovator. He is a co-founder of the political movement Operation Libero, the German grass-roots think tank Polis180, several foraus spinoffs around the globe, the staatslabor as well as the Global Diplomacy Lab. With his innovation consultancy crstl.io, Nicola advises different foundations, international think tanks and foreign ministries on creative formats and strategic innovation. He is the Founding Curator of the Global Shapers Bern Hub (World Economic Forum) and sits on the boards of the WEF Open Forum Davos, Fondation Science et Cité (as Vice President), Law and Economics Club as well as Foundation Jean Monnet pour l’Europe. Nicola is a Swiss Ashoka Fellow and Mercator Fellow. He has been ranked among the top 99 foreign policy leaders under 33 by The Diplomatic Courier. Nicola regularly contributes to Swiss and international media and is a frequent keynote speaker, panelist and moderator (e.g. with the Open Situation Rooms design thinking format).


Nicola holds a degree in law (lic.iur./MLaw) and has studied in Zurich, Montpellier and Lausanne. He is currently based in New York, Berlin and Switzerland and has lived in a wide range of countries, including Ethiopia, Russia, Australia and Belgium.

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