Welcome to the Solferino Academy


The IFRC Solferino Academy helps humanitarians find creative solutions to complex challenges.

We work across the IFRC network – collaborating with our leaders, volunteers and the communities they support – to help them design and test new ideas that work in the real world. 

We connect the IFRC network of National Societies to experts and change-makers, generating new perspectives and fresh ideas to transform the way humanitarians think and operate.  

By choosing collaboration, experimentation and imagination, together we can create a resilient organisation ready for the demands of a rapidly changing planet.

The Solferino Academy approach 

The IFRC Solferino Academy is a hub that supports National Societies transform to face today’s complex reality and the uncertainties of the future.

We can partner to help you to:  

  • Design and deliver transformation programmes
  • Develop approaches to be able to better anticipate and navigate shocks
  • Build organisation approaches that enable more innovation and agility
  • Deliver high-impact events which inspire, engage and provoke new thinking

Our work is shaped by the needs of the IFRC network but also uncovers new spaces for our organisation to explore.

Three important threads run through everything we do:

  • Creativity
    We believe in creative problem solving. Every project is carefully scoped to ensure we explore the right questions to make the greatest impact.
  • Connection
    We bring together IFRC staff, volunteers, service users and a world-class network of experts and creators to bring new perspectives to challenging problems.
  • Coaching
    We guide and support everyone we work with, embedding skills from the cutting-edge of humanitarian action.

““By learning different ways to think about future, we give ourselves more choices today, which allows us to actively work for the world we want to see”

Solferino Academy's Global Lead for Strategic Foresight

Our Focus

We work with current leadership and next generation change-makers from across the IFRC network.

Reflecting on the changing environment, trends and signals, we invite them to reimagine leadership and test new ways of working in humanitarian organisations.

We convene thought leaders and innovators from around the world, unpacking the attributes and conditions that enable transformative leadership.

We also create spaces for IFRC leaders to deep dive into the issues that worry them and collectively search for solutions. The connections we build create a support network that helps them throughout their leadership journey.

Strategic foresight
Our strategic foresight specialists work with teams across the IFRC network to develop future scenarios. These help us deal with uncertainty and complexity by improving our understanding of emerging risks, issues and their potential implications.

For example, the Solferino Academy contributes to the Ukraine Crisis response by generating possible futures triggered by the conflict, which are used in strategic planning. 

We support National Societies (NS) through creative workshops. These enhance foresight skills and make the practice useful for local planning, service delivery and the development of anticipatory governance.

Our team also works with speculative designers, artists and the public to generate creative visions of the future.    

In the Futures We Imagine programme, Red Cross and Red Crescent staff ‘brought back’ art pieces and fiction from the future of social change and humanitarian action. 

For COP27, we crowd-sourced TV adverts for future products that tackle the climate crisis, showcasing them to visitors at the event in Egypt. 

Our innovation approach helps the IFRC network make new ideas useful. We teach skills, partner with teams to tackle complex problems, and develop approaches that change the way our organisation works. 

The Limitless programme inspires the next generation of innovators. Over a year-long innovation journey, teams from around the world learn new skills and develop ground-breaking ideas. 

The finalists are showcased at the annual General Assembly, with the winners securing funding to accelerate their products and services. 

We also support the network’s digital transformation journey, helping to unlock new ideas and then rapidly test and iterate them. Pioneering products such as the Data Playbook were created in this way.  

Through the Innovation Support Systems programme, we support National Societies in designing and implementing their own local innovation system for volunteers and staff to explore, experiment, connect and innovate in a more suitable environment adapted to the context and goals of the National Society. In this line, we also designed the ISS guidebook that provides readers with the necessary knowledge to understand and start their own innovation support system.

In Ecuador, we have supported a reimagining of innovation systems, and learned lessons that can be applied globally.

Our tools and programs are gaining global recognition! Awards validate our efforts, motivating us to push boundaries. We’re grateful for the trust and consideration.

November 2022
Global Good Awards

Together with Action Lab researchers from Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology, we won Silver for our Limitless at the 2022 Global Good Awards – the leading independent international Award – for driving positive social and environmental change. Limitless was particularly praised for its multilingual, low-tech approach, supporting hundreds of youth innovations.

February 2023
Spanish Red Cross Humanitarian Technology Awards

Spanish Red Cross have opened their Humanitarian Technology Awards to all Red Cross & Red Crescent volunteers and staff around the world who have been creating and deploying innovative technology solutions for their communities and National Societies, and we received the very first award in this new category, so that we can help ideas become initiatives and transform our services for the better.

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