Resilience is Everyone’s Business: Public-Private Partnerships advancing Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management

Source(s): Connecting Business initiative UNDRR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) Miyamoto International United Nations Children's Fund (Global Headquarters, New York) United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
PDRF emergency control centre

In today’s COVID-19 transformed world, where the climate emergency is increasing the ferocity and frequency of extreme weather events worldwide, the need to act is clear. As disasters multiply and systemic risks increase, the imperative is to connect across sectors and geographies and foster partnerships so that our “new normal” enables resilience and sustainable development for all.

It’s in this context that the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GPDRR) 2022 is coming together in Bali, Indonesia, from May 23-28 this year. UN partners are proud to co-host the side-event “Resilience is everyone’s business: Learning from local experiences to build business and community resilience” with the Government of Indonesia as the GPDRR host, an opportunity to showcase Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for disaster risk reduction and disaster management.

Below are some examples of PPPs and effective private sector engagement models to support disaster management at country, regional or global levels. They are all supported by the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.

Enabling resilience through open-sourced technology to understand asset dependencies

The Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE), as established by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), encourages public private collaboration to improve disaster resilience. One concrete output of such collaboration is the Critical Assessment Management System (CAMS) Tool developed by volunteers from ARISE US and ARISE Canada and supported by several other private organizations.

This private sector led tool is designed as an open-source mobile and desktop application to help islands, cities and communities become disaster resilient.

Collapsed bridge following Hurricane Maria in Dominica, 2017
JEAN-FRANCOIS Manuel/Shutterstock

It does this by storing all critical asset data and the asset dependencies to understand not only what the critical assets are, but how one asset could impact other assets and the cascading effect of asset failures. The application can work offline in the event of an incident where power and connectivity are lost.

Specifically, the application allows users to:

  • build an inventory of critical assets and the relevant data associated with them, for example, geographical coordinates;
  • capture key contact information for assets, power plants, schools designated as shelters, etc.;
  • capture data on disaster severity and impact, from cybersecurity threats to natural hazards; and
  • plot relationships, spatial and dependency, between critical assets to identify failure chains based on the severity and type of disaster.

The starting point of CAMS was Hurricane Maria that caused widespread devastation in 2017 in Dominica. This is where the tool is currently being piloted, with the support of ARISE Dominica and other local partners.

Many island nations, cities and communities are impacted more than most by the climate emergency, even though they emit very little greenhouse gases. While CAMS cannot change that context, it can contribute to climate adaptation and community resilience through partnership and preparedness.

Better data and information sharing for earthquake preparedness and response

Indonesia remains one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, with the Government of Indonesia spending an estimated US$300-500 million on post-disaster reconstruction every year. Many businesses are just one disaster away from closure.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with Miyamoto International to advance private sector engagement in disaster preparedness and response in the country through the USAID ADVANCE Indonesia Program.

Through this initiative, information is shared across public and private groups and key beneficiaries are smaller to medium sized enterprises in Jakarta, Indonesia. Participating businesses receive business resilience planning support in a holistic manner across four steps (see visual below), which includes examination of linkages with the community, knowledge exchanges, structural and non-structural mitigation recommendations and participation in highly personalized disaster imagination scenario exercises. Participating businesses are also encouraged to see themselves as disaster risk reduction (DRR) and preparedness champions in their community, supporting information sharing with public actors and leading in this space.

Indonesia flag bandage post-earthquake

The USAID ADVANCE Indonesia Program contributes to improved public and private disaster risk reduction in Jakarta through the following outcomes: strengthened ability of private sector to prepare for, respond to and recover from earthquake disasters; increased participation of businesses in disaster management; improved availability of earthquake and structural data for decision making; and practical tools and frameworks shared across public and private actors to support earthquake disaster preparedness, information exchange and learning.

The program supports the mandate of the National Disaster Management Authority (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana, or BNPB) as well as the Regional Disaster Management Agency (Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Daerah, or BPBD) of the Jakarta Capital Special Region (Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta, or DKI Jakarta). Implementing partner Miyamoto International is a global multi-hazard engineering and disaster-risk management firm providing resiliency expertise that sustains industries and safeguards communities around the world.

Business skills at the service of hospitals & civil-military cooperation to save lives

In the Philippines, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) supports businesses of all sizes so they can continue operating even in the face of crises, notably with the SIKAP platform, a “one-stop shop for micro, small and medium sized enterprise (MSME) recovery”. Building further on this expertise, the organization started providing capacity-building programs to public hospital managers to ensure that healthcare services would remain available regardless of whether the hospital was also dealing with an earthquake, flooding, or an overwhelming demand due to a pandemic.

PDRF emergency operations center
Private sector-led Emergency Operations Center in the Philippines. Image: The PDRF

These are just some instances of how business continuity planning can make a difference and save lives.

The PDRF, a member of the UNDP-OCHA supported Connecting Business initiative (CBi), doesn’t just partner with the public sector for programmes such as the one described above. They are also an observer on the Humanitarian Country Team and run the only Business-led Emergency Operations Center in the world, coordinating the private sector response to crises such as typhoons to ensure their efforts complement the Government’s work.

The Search and Rescue Team evacuated residents during floods with a depth of more than one meter in Cipinang Melayu on February 20, 2021 in Jakarta.
Wulandari Wulandari/Shutterstock

In Sri Lanka, CBi Member Network the Asia-Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management Sri Lanka (A-PAD SL) organizes regular swift water rescue operation trainings with the military and including male and female volunteers from a range of companies. In a context where cultural sensitivities can make it difficult for women to be rescued by men, and where floods often threaten lives and livelihoods, having such mixed-gender teams ready to deploy has a very real impact on lives saved.

The CBi Secretariat engages local business networks before, during, and after emergencies. The initiative facilitates peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, access to funding, and supports business networks to achieve growth and scale impact.

Engaging with business to protect children from shocks and stresses

Since 2018, UNICEF has designed and tested a Public-Private Engagement approach referred to the Business and Community Resilience (BCR) in six disaster-prone countries. Supported by the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, BCR aims to strengthen national humanitarian systems and community-level resilience as well as engage with business to protect children from shocks and stresses.

BCR aims to harness private sector core expertise, operational capacities and networks. The need for such an approach was most evident during the COVID-19 pandemic as global supply chains faltered and domestic social safety nets were strained.

In Indonesia, UNICEF and partners launched the ‘INCUBITS’ platform to crowd source climate-resilient and affordable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) solutions to strengthen disaster resilience of communities. A WASH Innovation Hub was also established that draws from business sector expertise to test, iterate and showcase promising solutions.

An advocacy coalition, the Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPP-HWWS), was also formed to promote HWWS investments and sustainable hygiene practices for increased disaster resilience and response capacity of communities. WASH4Work initiatives contribute to strengthening business resilience to disasters and increasing climate risks through the provision of safe and sustainable WASH services in the workplace. Last year, this group supported the safe reopening of 15,000 schools and madrasahs through distribution of COVID-19 Safe School Kits, reaching 1 million children.

UNICEF activities in the field
UNICEF/2020/Pamela Lemmuela

In the Eastern Caribbean, Guatemala and Peru, UNICEF and partners defined the role of business in strategic plans, initiated inter-agency private sector working groups and collaborate with existing platforms, namely CBi, ARISE Global Network and other regionally-specific joint initiatives that focus on leveraging private sector capacities. Peru concluded a landscape analysis of the private sector’s role and sector-specific initiatives in humanitarian action and resilience, while Guatemala is undertaking a more comprehensive national and district-level analysis to guide future engagement. Meanwhile, national and regional authorities in the Caribbean, with the support of UNICEF, the Regional Chamber of Commerce and government counterparts, co-organized a regional forum in 2022 for private sector engagement in humanitarian action and resilience. 

What all these examples have in common is that they are striving to “act local, think global”, adapting lessons learned across borders and sectors to unlock the potential of business to catalyze the kind of synergies that can, quite literally, change the world.

Joint article developed by the Connecting Business initiative (CBi), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction ARISE network and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) ADVANCE Indonesia Program implemented by Miyamoto International.

If you want to find out how you – as an individual, or in the context of the role you play within your organization – can help, don’t hesitate to reach out to

If you are interested in learning more on the UNICEF initiatives on Climate, Environment, Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction with and for children and young people, please refer to the UNICEF DRR knowledge hub and the "Every country protected; every child resilient" report.

If you want to know more about the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) network, don't hesitate to visit our website or reach out to

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