Sphere Board meeting: A new NGO and new governance

22 December 2016 | Sphere Project

Ensuring that Sphere continues to adapt itself as a user-driven, practitioner-governed organisation, the project has become a non-profit association under Swiss law.

At its second regular annual meeting held in Geneva in November, the Sphere Project Board reviewed the new institutional status and governance structure of the organisation. Building on analysis and feedback from users over the past year, the move aligns organisational arrangements with the Sphere 2020 strategic plan.

On 28 September 2016, the Sphere Association was constituted in Geneva as a non-profit association under Swiss law. The new legal entity is the successor of the Sphere Project, established in 1997 as a time-bound multi-organisation initiative to establish minimum standards for humanitarian assistance in crises.

The "new" Sphere will be led by a General Assembly, an Executive Board and a Secretariat headed by an Executive Director.

The founding officers of the association are Martin McCann (President, RedR/UK), Sarah Kambarami (Vice-President, ACT Alliance) and Julien Schopp (Treasurer, InterAction). This represents a continuation of the Sphere Project Board membership for an interim period until the first ordinary meeting of the General Assembly, to be held in May 2018.

The Sphere Secretariat is composed of five staff (two part-time) and the Executive Director, Christine Knudsen. The Secretariat has moved offices to Rue de Varembé 3, Geneva (see a map and contact details). Staff email addresses remain unchanged until further notice.

Handbook revision, Network of practice, Standards partnership

The Board also provided strategic guidance for the Sphere Handbook revision, which will enter its public phase in early 2017, with preparations and leadership already in place.

The Board further confirmed Sphere's focus on humanitarian principles and on rapid response, while acknowledging that Sphere standards remain relevant in practice for preparedness and for transition planning.

The Board stressed the importance of the Humanitarian Charter and humanitarian principles guiding the standards, while also acknowledging that other actors may take up the standards to provide accountable and high quality assistance in emergencies.

The network of Sphere focal points continues to grow, with 46 focal points in 43 countries, including 17 countries with high-risk humanitarian situations, now in place. Focal points were brought on board in 2016 in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Turkey, Vietnam and Ukraine.

The Humanitarian Standards Partnership continues to deepen collaboration among the involved initiatives, supporting joint activities and outreach. Among other initiatives, it has enabled greater alignment through the revision of the Minimum Economic Recovery Standards (MERS) and the Minimum requirements for market analysis in emergencies (of the Cash Learning Partnership CaLP).

The Partnership is also developing a smartphone application to allow practitioners to have the full set of humanitarian standards at their fingertips in 2017.

New Board members

The Board expressed its gratitude to Simon Eccleshall (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies), John Plastow (CARE International), Ian Ridley (World Vision International) and Bart Witteveen (Humanitarian Response Network of Canada), who stepped down as members during the year.

The Board welcomed the following new members: David Fisher (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Isabel Gomes (World Vision International) and Philippe Guiton (CARE International).

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