Pablo Suarez, Humanitarian Worker, Researcher and Innovator, on his Search for Breakthrough Collaborations – Including, Potentially, Aerospace & Defence, – in the Global Challenges Arena

by | Apr 14, 2021

Over the past year we have been running a series of interviews and articles with and by key thinkers and thought-leaders who have wanted to speak to the core proposition underwriting our ‘Call to Action’, which we launched in response to the pandemic: namely, that the aerospace and defence (A&D) industry can – indeed, must – take its place alongside other sectors in the battle for solutions to global challenges, beginning with climate change.

As our website content attests (, there is a vast amount of ‘locked-up potential’ within the science and technology basements of A&D companies, most of it paid for by governments, that can act on these challenges. Beyond climate change itself, these include food and water security, smart/resilient cities and the humanitarian crisis and response arena. A&D also has vital systems-of-systems knowledge that can help in rolling out solutions at scale. 

But all of this will only work if A&D operates alongside other sectors in delivering the solutions – sectors, unlike A&D, that have knowledge of working on the front-line of the challenges, where a different set of rules – and different business models – operate. And, of course, not all sectors want to work with A&D, which, alongside the governments that buy the weapon systems produced by their defence arms, are inevitably blamed for a particularly destabilising global challenge: armed conflict. 

How, then, to square this circle?

In our featured post here, we re-run last year’s interview with Pablo Suarez, humanitarian worker, researcher and innovator, on his search for breakthrough collaborations in the global challenges arena. 

The paradox as it stands is that humanitarian organisations have procurement needs that look a lot like A&D’s government customers’. But, at the same time, the humanitarian/NGO sector’s code of ethics prevents even the beginnings of a dialogue on how the two sides might explore cooperative engagement against the world’s most intractable challenges as set out in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: 

For breakthroughs to occur in the post-pandemic ‘new normal’, we have to disrupt old paradigms. We need to open up new dialogues in a markedly changed world – and our hopes for a better one. In his interview with NCW’s Nick Cook, Pablo eloquently sets up the discussion on the ‘art of the possible’ in the months and years ahead.