Role of the Private Sector in Humanitarian Efforts04 Dec 2009, PR 268/09 The Humanitarian Futures Programme in the Department of War Studies and the international disaster relief charity RedR yesterday hosted more than 150 delegates in the Great Hall, Strand Campus. The event had a high-profile line up of speakers, including HRH The Princess Royal and Sir John Holmes, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
The conference entitled Hard Realities and Future Necessities: The Role of the Private Sector in Humanitarian Efforts
provided an important platform for cross-sector discussion and debate by bringing together expert speakers and delegates from the private sector, humanitarian community and academia, to examine the current and future role of the private sector in meeting aid needs from a broad range of perspectives.
In his key note speech, Sir John Holmes, UN under-secretary general and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that aid organisations could not afford to ignore the expertise and innovation residing in the private sector if they were to meet future challenges. He further called on the humanitarian community to overcome traditional suspicions and recognise the potential role the private sector has to play in humanitarian relief.
‘I would say the non-profit sector does not have the exclusive right to deliver humanitarian assistance. If companies can do it better and cheaper and genuinely respect these basic (humanitarian) principles why should they not be involved if it's in the interest of the beneficiaries?’
Sir John said.
He also told the assembled delegates that although there were ‘tantalizing examples’ of collaboration, there was an urgent need to find more systematic and productive ways of engaging together. He appealed to the businesses to help meet technological needs in areas such as shelter, water and sanitation and fuel-efficient cooking stoves, and to do more than donate money to humanitarian causes.
RedR President and Chancellor of the University of London HRH The Princess Royal gave a highly engaging and topical speech on the need for further coordination and cooperation to ensure better aid responses and to face future challenges. She spoke of the important developments within the sector over the last few decades and urged aid organisations to recognise the need to develop sustainable business in countries affected by disaster.
She further commended RedR’s role in developing sector expertise over the last 30 years, and especially noted recent activities aimed at engaging with the private sector and developing commercial companies’ understanding of humanitarian response and principles. This included training programmes for the Logistics Emergency Team, involving companies such as TNT, Agility and UPS, and as well as RedR Technical Support Service which also harnesses private sector technical expertise.
An International and highly varied speaker panel
The conference had a highly international profile with panellists such as Rudolf von Bernuth of Save the Children Alliance based in the USA, Les Baillie of Kenyan mobile giant Safaricom, and Programme Manager of the Humanitarian Research Group at the French business school INSEAD, Rolando Tomasini.
Marc Dubois, Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières UK delivered a controversial talk, arguing for the need for clearer lines to be drawn between humanitarian work and the private sector as well as Government and military actors. Mr. Dubois expressed concern that increasingly blurred lines between different actors operating in the humanitarian space, was putting aid workers increasingly at risk of attacks.
Among several speakers from the private sector, Will Day, Sustainability Advisor of leading international consultancy experts Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Jo da Silva, Director of International Development, at global engineering firm and RedR Patron Arup, both of whom have extensive first-hand humanitarian experience, delivered a strong case for using private sector expertise to help tackle future challenges facing the sector, while Dr Hugo Slim spoke of his company CforC’s involvement in Zimbabwe. A theoretical framework was provided by Professor Alyson Warhurst, Founding Director of Maplecroft and Ben Ramalingam, Head of Research and Development at ALNAP.
HRH The Princess Royal was welcomed to King's by the Principal, Professor Rick Trainor.
[Image by Max Attenborough, RedR. Text by RedR]Notes to editors King's College London Humanitarian Futures Programme
The Humanitarian Futures Programme (HFP) aims to help organisations engaged in humanitarian action to meet the challenges arising out of humanitarian crises of the future. The HFP, based at King’s College London, works with a range of partner organisations, including NGOs, governments, regional organisations and multilaterals, to develop tools, methods and approaches to assess and strengthen the future capacities of its partners. The ultimate purpose of this effort is to use the experiences of working with its partners to develop ways to assist the wider humanitarian community in planning and preparing for the future. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/sspp/ws/events/hfp.html
RedR seeks to improve the effectiveness of disaster relief to help save and rebuild the lives of people affected by natural disaster and conflict worldwide. We do this through delivering essential training and support to relief workers, and by supplying skilled professionals to humanitarian programmes around the world. RedR seeks to provide a platform for knowledge-sharing and best practice within the humanitarian sector by hosting conferences, talk series and other events. http://www.redr.org.uk/
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education
2009) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 21,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org
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