Sue Adkins, International Director at Business in the Community, looks at the key trends seen in this year’s entries to the UPS International Disaster Relief Award, supported by the UK Department for International Development. Jump straight to case studies
The frequency, intensity and impact of disasters is increasing dramatically, with total economic loss and people affected both growing - respectively £140bn and 16.7m more in 2015 than in 2013.
With public aid budgets limited the role of the private sector in relieving international disasters becomes ever more important. Equally increase is the need for business to build resilience to disasters – helping themselves and their communities by maintaining business continuity and keeping markets working.
Three powerful themes can be seen in this year’s entries to the UPS International Disaster Relief Award. First is the value of collaboration, in preparation as well as response, demonstrated by Xylem Inc, ArcelorMittal and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. A new and very apparent trend is the use of innovative and targeted information technology to preserve business continuity and aid relief efforts, as with Finalists iDT Labs and Smart-e money's entries . And we have also seen businesses continue to leverage core skills, resources and competencies and align them to humanitarian need, as with InterContinental Hotel Group’s Shelter in a Storm programme.
This year’s finalists all demonstrate the value of preparation, of partnership, of innovating to create new solutions, and of an informed understanding of the value of businesses’ core abilities to address disaster relief needs. Businesses and communities are independent, and this is never more true than in a disaster situation. These businesses have shown that they fully understand this.
There were two winners of this Award. The Philippines Long Distance Telephone Company were the Large Company winner, demonstrating how the private sector can work together to provide vital support to communities, and help them restore and support economic activity. Resurrecting the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, the company built a broad-based coalition and created an effective platform for the cooperation and mobilisation of the private sector, government and international agencies.
iDT Labs in Sierra Leone, the Small Company winner, provides another inspirational example, showing small companies can make powerful contributions too. Focusing on its core competencies, this young, ten person outfit put its day to day business aside to create an innovative solution for the secure, accurate payment of emergency health workers during the Ebola disaster. iDT's work not only played a vital role in the fight against the disease, but also gave Sierra Leone's government enough confidence in digital payment systems to adopt iDT's solution across its health department.
These examples, plus ArcelorMittal's Highly Commended Ebola Private Sector Mobilisation Group, showcase the central role of business in helping to address disaster relief and resilience, as the private sector transitions from a donor to a partner role.