Author(s): Shahnaz Radjy

Rising to the challenge: Private sector's "no matter what" commitment to climate and disaster resilience

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Location and date marker for glacier in Jasper National Park in Canada. Clear evidence of global warming.
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This year, #nomatterwhat is the theme for World Humanitarian Day, highlighting the continuing commitment to deliver humanitarian support to affected communities no matter the challenges or obstacles. A prominent focus will naturally be on climate action and its vital role in humanitarian response. This comes in a context where the United Nations and its partners – including the private sector – aim to help almost 250 million people in crises around the world this year alone. That’s 10 times more people than in 2003.

At the Connecting Business initiative (CBi), a collaborative endeavour of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), we are committed to highlighting the different initiatives undertaken by our partners, business networks, in response to challenges like El Niño and the escalating intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. The essence of #nomatterwhat lies in the fact that businesses are often primary responders within communities, unwavering in their support for disaster management efforts regardless of the circumstances.

The examples below showcase how businesses actively engage in climate action, demonstrating their commitment to being there "no matter what" and contributing to the well-being and resilience of the community during and after emergencies.

Climate action in Asia and the Pacific

In Fiji, our partner the Fiji Business Disaster Resilience Council co-hosted a hybrid event with the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation on the Fiji Climate Change Act and how the private sector can align objectives. The event featured a speaker from the Office of the Prime Minister.

At a regional level, in the Pacific, The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is providing support to Pacific Island chambers of commerce for institutional strengthening and climate finance initiatives.

In the Philippines, the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation organized a webinar on El Niño preparedness with regard to water management, launched the updated MSME Guide to Disaster Resilience that targets small businesses (also known as “micro-, small, and medium-enterprises” or MSMEs) while they continue the USAID funded Climate Resilient Cities Project. The organization is also carrying out an area-wide business continuity project in the Province of Laguna.

Looking ahead, the Asia-Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management Sri Lanka will host its annual International Symposium in September titled, "Climate-Smart Collaboration: Accelerating Transition Towards a Climate-Resilient Tomorrow". The Japanese Ambassador will be the Guest of Honor and two panel discussions will focus on climate-smart solutions as well as navigating the complexity of multi-stakeholder collaboration to climate risk reduction.

Contingency planning for El Nino and potential impacts

The Plateforme Humanitaire du Secteur Prive Cote d’Ivoire (PHSP-CI) participated in the development of a National Multi-risk Contingency Plan, identifying priority risks and impacts of extreme weather events, such as flooding and health epidemics that may ensue (among others). The PHSP-CI is part of the national emergency coordination mechanism for the Ivory Coast.

Focusing on El Niño, the National Disaster Operations Center in Kenya held an Emergency Contingency Planning Session at the Kenya Red Cross Society, with the participation of our partner, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

Fostering climate resilience in Latin America

In Latin America, Hombro a Hombro in Peru has been fostering a culture of emergency preparedness in schools, with a particular focus on earthquakes given the country’s risk profile. They have also been preparing for El Niño by partnering with the National Institute of Civil Defense, INDECI, to estimate and plan logistical needs as well as collaborating with Escuela R to provide capacity-building to 125 municipalities.

The above examples are not an exhaustive list, but serve to illustrate just how diverse private sector engagement can be when it comes to disaster management. There is no single formula, but businesses around the world are present, ready and willing to support disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

With an increasing number of extreme weather events taking place, and El Niño, we need to harness all the capacity and resources available to mitigate the impact of crises on communities and foster more resilient societies. And we can only do that by working together.

That is why CBi is starting a Community of Practice (COP) to promote collective awareness on El Niño and good practices around preparedness, response, and recovery from extreme weather events. Interested in joining? Reach out to and tell us why.

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