A role for business in humanitarian aid?

Photo © V. Krebs
Photo © V. Krebs
Irene Amodei, traduction française Gabriella Sconfitti, traducción española Tahona Santana Naranjo
16 February 2007

What has the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to do with a company specialized in fire brigades equipment? What has the World Food Programme in common with Toyota? And finally, what could Red Cross share with Microsoft?

The last International Aid+Trade conference, held in Geneva the from 24 to 25 January 2007, gathered both the corporate world and humanitarian sectors in order to openly discuss perspectives and concerns regarding strategic partnerships - the well-known and still under debate PPPs - and possible collaborative solutions.

On one hand, aid organizations face unprecedented and growing challenges around the world as a result of the increasing scale and scope of natural and man-made disasters: expanding humanitarian activity brings a growing need for efficiency with itself, as well as transparency and support of on-going relief and development programmes. On the other hand, many corporations want to engage more directly in the humanitarian sector, offering their people, products and services.

 "The sinister factor in this scenario" commented during the event Sally Begbie, President of Global Hand, "is its fragmentation", that easily and understandingly becomes a source of criticism when a neglected disaster breaks out.

Connecting relevant actors and explaining the additional values and the avoidable dangers of this nexus was the main focus of the event.

By preparing the conference delegate kits, supporting welcoming services, assisting the meet-the-buyers corners, room supervising and finally reporting on the workshops, ICVolunteers literally oiled the wheels of the conference, according to its mandate.

"Our volunteers were simply great!" says Emily Fisher, ICV Project Manager "And brave, taken into account that a blizzard hit Geneva during the two-day conference". "One week after, ICV reports were already on line on Aid+Trade web site and we are proud of such effectiveness" comments Brigitte Elling, ICV Coordinator in charge of the Reporting Team of Aid + Trade.

See: www.aidandtrade.org

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