The Business Case – Private Sector Engagement in Emergency Preparedness and Response
September 2nd, 2016 | UN OCHA
Why should companies engage in humanitarian emergency preparedness and response ?
Perceptions are changing that this is simply part of a corporate social responsibility or public relations strategy, where companies look to make high-profile cash or in-kind donations to charities. This Business Case Project aims to explore private sector commercial and organizational motivations for preparing for and responding to humanitarian situations.
Existing reports and case studies suggest that companies are increasingly investing in humanitarian action to enhance their own resilience and the resilience of the communities they are part of. Additional research is required to help answer the following :
How do businesses directly benefit from preparing for and responding to humanitarian crises?
How do we improve understanding of the business rationale for private sector engagement in humanitarian action?
How do we scale and diversify private sector engagement in humanitarian action?
What resources, tools and/or systemic reforms are required to facilitate sustainable and practical private sector engagement in humanitarian action?
To answer these questions :
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is attempting to clarify the business case for private sector engagement in emergency preparedness and response. With its coordination mandate, OCHA is uniquely placed to lead the research with multiple stakeholders. It is collaborating on this project with two organizations : Vantage Partners, a Boston-based consulting firm that helps organizations transform the way they negotiate with and manage relationships with key partners, and Philanthropy Advisors, which is an international consulting firm supporting private sector actors to engage in humanitarian action through the definition and implementation of their corporate social responsibility and corporate philanthropy.
POTENTIAL RATIONALES FOR PRIVATE SECTOR ENGAGEMENT
1. ACCESS COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES
Accessing, understanding and/or testing new markets. Developing and testing new products and/or product innovations. Enhancing reputation, legitimacy and brand.
2. REDUCE BUSINESS RISK AND/ OR MITIGATE LOSS
Protecting the consumer base, preventing market interruption and protecting supply networks.
Developing and testing internal processes and emergency procedures.
Learning information to inform long-term strategic planning.
3. IMPROVE BUSINESS ASSETS
Making maximum use of core competencies. Staff engagement, talent utilization and retention.
4. BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS AND INFLUENCE
Building relationships with Governments, other businesses and international organizations. Accessing benefits from Government-incentive programmes, including tax concessions. Influencing Government and/or regulator decisions and actions.
5. CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Achieving corporate social responsibility goals.
Meeting professional responsibilities, acting in an ethical manner.
PRIVATE SECTOR ENGAGEMENT RATIONALES TO TEST
A. Multinational businesses with products or services relevant to the response:
- Using businesses’ core competencies
- Increasing staff engagement and retention
- Accessing new markets
- Developing innovative products
B. Businesses providing services to improve the humanitarian system:
- Advocating improvements to the humanitarian system
- Investing in relationships
- Enhancing business reputation
C. Businesses that contribute to crisis appeals or humanitarian funding:
- Corporate Social Responsibility
- Staff satisfaction
- Enhancing brand visibility
- Accessing regulatory incentives
D. Businesses operating in emergency-affected areas:
- Investing in the resilience of suppliers and vendors
- Protecting and rebuilding supply chain and infrastructure
- Ensuring the welfare of consumers
THE BUSINESS CASE PROJECT
- CONSULTATIONS: Analyze and further develop the business case for private sector engagement in emergency preparedness and response, including interviews and surveys with businesses and other humanitarian actors (May-September 2016)
- ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY: Based on the consultation findings, develop and implement strategies to more effectively engage the private sector in emergency preparedness and response on a business-case basis (July 2016 onwards)
- PRACTICAL TOOLS: Identify partners to help develop practical resources for high-level private sector decision makers to help engage in emergency preparedness and response on a business-case basis (October 2016 onwards)
Original article on UN OCHA