Innovative public-private partnerships are key to Post-2015 success
13 Feb 2015 by Neil Buhne, Director of UNDP's Geneva Liaison Office
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on innovation in development practice.
In a world where links between countries are greater and faster than ever, disasters that once might have had only local effects now increasingly have international ramifications. The effects from the tsunami/meltdown of Japan’s Fukushima reactor, for example, had devastating local consequences, but also impacted communities and economies thousands of miles away. In such an interconnected world, with impacts that touch upon all of society, locally and internationally, we need equally all-embracing approaches.
While challenging, an increasingly interlinked world also provides unprecedented opportunities to reduce risk. Countries that might have once been at a dire disadvantage from a skills and knowledge perspective now have the ability to draw upon international resources. And the private sector—which operates in perhaps an even more hyper-connected environment than governments—can be called on to provide expertise.
Our goal then, as we move into the post-2015 context, is to learn how to tap into these areas and to make use of innovative partnerships that draw on specific strengths and address identifiable gaps.
The Get Airports Ready for Disasters (GARD) programme, a joint venture between UNDP and Deutsche Post DHL, stands as an example of such innovation. The programme joins the logistics expertise of DPDHL with the governance and capacity building experience of UNDP. Leveraging local knowledge and skills, it helps targeted countries strengthen airport capacities to manage possible disasters. From expediting long visa delays for relief workers to storing temperature-controlled food and medicine, the partnership addresses obvious gaps in the relief supply chain. The result is better disaster preparedness that incorporates public and private expertise.
The benefits of GARD are manifold: For the country in question, capacity is built, with systems put in place that can help reduce the effects of disasters. UNDP’s expertise is put to good use, and private sector partners have a chance to contribute to the general social good while deepening relationships with local partners and businesses.
Unfortunately, partnerships like GARD are not common – whether due to bureaucracy in the UN, hesitation from governments or hesitation from private sector partners who do not see the advantage.
There are positive signs, however. Already in Indonesia, Uzbekistan and FYR Macedonia, UNDP has signed on with private companies and universities to develop mobile phone apps that instruct people on disasters. In other areas, we are exploring partnerships to enhance early warning and strengthen data collection.
As we prepare to establish a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action, we would do well to look at programmes like GARD as examples of how comprehensive disaster risk reduction must be done. Disasters affect us all, and that means we all have to be involved in preparing for them.