Author: Shahnaz Radjy

Building a better future: Good practices from Vanuatu for business engagement in disaster management

Source(s): Connecting Business initiative

Pacific islands such as Vanuatu are on the forefront of climate action, investing in climate change adaption and disaster resilience as they deal with the impacts of climate change such as extreme weather events, including more intense cyclones like Tropical Cyclone Harold, rising ocean temperature that affects marine life, as well as rising sea levels. Our partner on the ground, the Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) has been leading the work around how best to engage and mobilize local businesses to improve disaster preparedness, response and recovery capacities in Vanuatu. Over the years, they have put together a wealth of experience, insights, and lessons learned with the support of the OCHA/UNDP Connecting Business initiative, in the hopes that other island nations – or business networks like island chambers – can learn from them and avoid having to reinvent the wheel.

There are four areas of focus presented in separate reports:

  1. Quick Planning Guides in Preparedness, Response and Recovery
  2. Case Study From Vanuatu: Best Practices in Risk Reduction, Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery
  3. Quick Guide on Network Engagement and Coordination with Humanitarian Actors
  4. The Unblocked Cash Experience In Vanuatu: Private Sector Implementing a Cash Transfer System for Humanitarian Response

What you, your business, and your private sector network can learn from Vanuatu

The Quick Planning Guides in Preparedness, Response and Recovery presents how the Vanuatu private sector – and how any national group of businesses – can prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. This ranges from understanding disaster risks and the importance of early warning systems to practical steps to respond to and recover from a crisis. 

The Best Practices in Risk Reduction, Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery covers five particular examples of initiatives that worked and key takeaways to facilitate adaptation and replication of such efforts. Notably, the report covers:

  • Solutions for expanding climate finance access for the private sector
  • Business continuity planning through South-South cooperation across the Pacific
  • Women as leaders for business resilience
  • Coordinating relief operations in hard-to-reach areas
  • Blockchain technology to enable disaster recovery with dignity

The Quick Guide on Network Engagement and Coordination with Humanitarian Actors focuses on how the VBRC was created as well as nine lessons on private sector engagement in disaster management, including the importance of technology, communications, and nurturing government relations, among others.

The Unblocked Cash Experience report shares details on challenges and lessons learned from the cash transfer programme VBRC implemented in partnership with OXFAM as part of the response and recovery efforts for Tropical Cyclone Harold.

“We work hard to ensure that we have systems in place to enhance Vanuatu's capacity to mitigate and reduce risks brought about by disasters and climate change," says Glen Craig, Chairman of the VBRC. “However, we have seen the power of local businesses as part of the community and hope that our learning curve can help others hit the ground running for greater disaster resilience across the board. For that, we’re grateful for CBi’s support and its community of local private sector networks.”

Key takeaways from the Vanuatu disaster management experience

While every country and context has its own intricacies, at CBi we have found that there are few more powerful tools than peer-to-peer learning across borders and cultures. Innovative solutions that work in one place are often adaptable if not replicable in myriad other contexts, allowing for the implementing body to learn from others and build on existing good practices as well as lessons learned.

“One of the key strengths of being part of CBi is how much the Member Networks can learn from and support each other in disaster management” explains Florian Rhiza Nery, Deputy Programme Coordinator of CBi. “We also work closely with local private sector actors by developing customized peer-to-peer exchanges and network development action plans to support private sector engagement and collaboration with governments, UN agencies and other humanitarian and development partners.”

We hope that the Vanuatu experience can inspire other nations in the Pacific to further invest in resilience through tested and tried methods and initiatives. However, we believe these experiences are also particularly relevant to other island states.

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Country and region Vanuatu
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