Vanuatu Business Resilience Council
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The Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) is the CBi Member Network in Vanuatu. VBRC is a registered charitable organization under the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission and is a standing committee of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). They were established to coordinate and strengthen the engagement of the private sector in disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness, response and recovery, and climate change adaptation and mitigation in Vanuatu. The VBRC was launched in October 2017 in coordination with the Ministry of Climate Change and through the support of the Connecting Business Initiative (CBi), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS).
VBRC sits as the official private sector observer on the National Advisory Board (NAB) on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction of the Government of Vanuatu. The VBRC is also included in the NAB’s Climate Finance Working Group and Project Screening Committee and also sits on the Vanuatu Climate Action Network’s (VCAN) Climate Finance Working Group to improve collaboration with civil society. These mechanisms allow VBRC to engage in relevant opportunities for public-private partnerships in climate action and disaster risk reduction. VBRC works closely with the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Authority and is part of the government’s logistics cluster.
Since its establishment in 2017, the VBRC has been engaged in several projects and partnerships such as:
- Supporting women-led businesses through the Phoenix Women in Business programme through which women business owners have been equipped to grow their businesses and impulse positive social change in their communities;
- Helping local private sector actors through the Green Climate Fund Readiness Project to enhance access to climate finance through tailored information dissemination, project preparation trainings, and resilience building activities;
- Organizing business continuity preparedness capacity building for local businesses.
As part of its ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, VBRC mobilized the local private sector to support the government’s vaccination campaign by organizing vaccination parties and providing food and cash voucher incentives for people to get vaccinated. In collaboration with VCCI, VBRC also developed short videos, podcasts and other multimedia content to raise awareness on the importance of vaccination. The two organizations encouraged local businesses to adopt safe business protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by sharing tools and advice.
To help communities recover from the severe economic impacts of the pandemic and the destruction brought by Tropical Cyclone Harold in 2020, VBRC led the implementation of two recovery programmes. First, the Phoenix Women in Business programme offered coaching sessions, mentoring, business skills coaching and leadership skills development to women business owners. It was done in partnership with UN Women Pacific, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund and several civil society organizations. Second, VBRC also extended the implementation of its Unblocked Cash Programme, a recovery project using blockchain technology in partnership with Oxfam. The programme targeted communities affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold and vulnerable groups such as widows and people living with disabilities.
VBRC organized business continuity planning for small businesses ahead of the cyclone season, participated in simulation exercises on COVID-19 with the local government and facilitated a training programme for
small businesses on e-banking on the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction in October. VBRC also led training initiatives for Government and civil society leaders in Fiji, Palau and Tonga on business continuity planning, with support from UNDP and ILO.
Finally, VBRC partnered with the Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation to co-host the Melanesian Sub-Regional Private Sector Workshop on Climate Finance. This was the first collaboration of its kind between the Government and Vanuatu’s private sector in terms of climate financing.
Cover photo: VBRC/Groovy Banana