Distinguished Members of the Panel, Representatives of Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I will not discover anything new if I say that we are facing a tremendous scale of unresolved and protracted humanitarian crises that we have not seen since the Second World War. This is very visible when we speak to our Turkish friends, at the borders of the country and inside the country but because of all the good reasons, because of the generosity that Turkey has shown in the face of the Syrian crisis. At a global level more than 141 million people are affected by conflict, displacement, and natural disasters. I would like to coincide what our introducing speaker said that disasters are a broader concept that encompasses extreme inequality, health pandemics, and not only climate related disasters. Disasters are not only a risk to lives and livelihoods; they can make doing business riskier and costlier, more difficult, lead to value chain disruption, job losses, loss of livelihoods and closure of enterprises. It has been assessed that economic losses from disasters for the past ten years, and this is the narrow definition of disasters, are estimated at about US$1.5 trillion worldwide.
On this daunting stage, all hands are needed on deck. There is growing recognition of the private sector as a strategic partner in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030, including in disaster recovery and prevention.
The Connecting Business initiative (CBi), a private sector-led and UN-supported initiative, was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit here in Istanbul 18 months ago. CBi responds to a demand voiced in consultations with over 900 companies and partners to help the private sector play a more strategic role in building resilience. CBi was created for two main reasons:
First, it provides a global entry point for the private sector to learn how they can become more resilient.
Second, CBi provides hands-on support to strengthen private sector-led networks, connecting them to national disaster management structures.
In its first year, CBi supported such networks in 13 locations , Cote d’Ivoire, Fiji, Haiti, Kenya/East Africa, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pacific, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Vanuatu. Eight of the networks were faced by disasters and responded to emergencies together with partners. For example, when Cyclone Enawo hit Madagascar in March of this year, the Madagascar Private Sector Humanitarian Platform –a network of about 60 private sector entities, NGOs and UN agencies– helped over 8,000 affected families in coordination with national efforts. This was possible because the network had mobilized members, mapped their capacities, established a coordination mechanism with national and international disaster management bodies and respondents before the disaster hit, and understood how the response needed to take place to be effective.
But it’s not only the humanitarian response that we focus on. Averting and mitigating shocks is even more important. The crisis you do not see, because it never happened, because we managed to avert it before it hit. CBi, via its networks, helps to enhance the resilience of companies, especially micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, by helping them understand their own vulnerabilities to risks and putting in place mitigating actions to ensure that operations continue during and after an emergency. For example, here in Turkey, the Saglam KOBI initiative has offered business continuity trainings as a way to better prepare MSMEs for disasters. Through CBi support and the UPS Foundation, another very important partner, this experience is now being replicated in Mexico and other countries.
Let me conclude by saying that meeting and reducing humanitarian needs, and securing a stable path to economic and social development, requires a broader partnership. I would like to acknowledge the tremendous efforts of our partners from the private sector, governments, other UN agencies, NGOs and civil society who have made serious progress since the World Humanitarian Summit. And for those who are not yet on board, there are many opportunities at the global level, in Turkey and in other countries. We at UNDP look forward to working with all of you as our partners.