Panama City, 7 December 2022 – Business leaders have joined humanitarian partners and government representatives to adopt a regional, collaborative and cross-sectoral approach to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. A joint roadmap will be implemented by private sector networks and partners in Latin America and the Caribbean in collaboration with the OCHA-UNDP Connecting Business initiative.
The plan was announced at a regional workshop organized by the Connecting Business initiative (CBi) with the regional offices of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), held in Panama City this week.
Over 40 business leaders, disaster management experts, development and humanitarian professionals from 13 countries came together to define a roadmap to better engage local businesses in emergencies. Butch Meily, President of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, a CBi Member Network, also participated in the workshop to share insights and best practices from Asia-Pacific.
Shelley Cheatham, the Head of OCHA Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, insisted on the need for stronger private sector engagement in crises at a time when the region faces growing humanitarian needs. “Over 29.2 million people will need assistance and protection in the region in 2023, as a result of climate change, insecurity, migration, and the global economic crisis. Disasters are becoming more intense, more frequent, and humanitarians alone can’t address these challenges. The private sector has the extra resources and expertise needed to help us better prepare for and respond to threats.”
Latin America and the Caribbean are among the regions most exposed to natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and extreme weather events. In Central America alone, over seven million people were affected by torrential rainfall and hurricanes in 2022.
Currently, CBi works with private sector networks in three countries in the region: Peru, Haiti and Mexico, with plans to expand further in the coming years.
The regional approach will allow CBi private sector networks to build their capacities through peer-to-peer learning and support other business associations in the region.
Petipha Lewis, the Vice Chair of the Caribbean Chambers of Commerce (CARICHAM) stressed the importance of a regional yet adapted approach: “The challenge is how to adapt regional and global insights into actionable follow-up. The Caribbean is so diverse that a one-size-fits all approach won’t work – but workshops like this one and initiatives like the Connecting Business can enable the right balance to accelerate disaster resilience through different island chambers and partners.”
A joint initiative of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Connecting Business initiative (CBi) supports private sector engagement before, during and after emergencies. Since CBi’s launch in 2016, its Member Networks have responded to more than 100 crises and assisted around 18 million people. Read more in the 2021 CBi Annual Report.
For more information about CBi, visit connectingbusiness.org
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