I would like to thank the Executive Director of the World Food Program, Ms. McCain for her comprehensive presentation. I applaud your personal commitment to this cause and the extraordinarily important work WFP is doing in these very challenging times!
I also want to thank Mr. Cohen and Mr. Miebach. We commend you for your personal work in the field of philanthropy and humanitarian assistance. We are grateful too for your involvement and contribution to this initiative we are gathered here to discuss.
The world is facing an unprecedented level of humanitarian need, driven by conflict, climate change, and the enduring impact of COVID-19. In its 2023 mid-year review of the Global Humanitarian Overview, the United Nations assessed that nearly $55 billion is needed to assist 249 million people in need. Despite continued generosity and resource mobilization efforts, the current gap between what is needed and what is available through donor contributions is huge.
This is not a new phenomenon. Year after year, crisis after crisis, we are faced with a shortage of funds and available aid, despite the generosity of donors. It is a shortage that has immense consequences for millions upon millions of people affected by conflict, natural catastrophes, climate change, and the food security crisis.
A greater and more structured contribution by the private sector, we believe, can go a long way toward addressing this pressing shortfall. It is not only material resources, funds, food, medicine, etc. that the private sector can contribute to this important effort that has assumed a newfound urgency in the context of the war in Ukraine and the disruption in food supplies it has produced.
The private sector can also assist by offering access to cutting-edge technology, research and development, and operational capabilities. With the private sector’s expertise and capabilities in fields such as logistics, telecommunications, transport, and data analysis, humanitarian actors will gain improved efficiency and effectiveness in their response efforts.
As the Security Council and the United Nations address accelerating humanitarian needs in conflict zones or in areas affected by natural disasters, we believe it is imperative that we find ways to strengthen the role of the private sector in humanitarian operations.
Albania believes too, that it is imperative that we identify the most problematic gaps and key areas for improvement in crisis response, while, at the same time, exploring the mechanisms through which the role of corporations or philanthropies in the crisis response ecosystem can be formalized.
Albania first started exploring the possibility of greater involvement of the private sector in humanitarian operations in a proper crisis setting.
As many of you know, beginning in 2021, Albania welcomed thousands of Afghan men, women, and children.
Albania is a small country that does not have the resources and infrastructure needed to offer shelter, in dignified conditions, to such large numbers of people. However, what we lacked in resources, we made up by adopting a new approach to humanitarian crisis management, one that aimed to create synergies between our public resources and those of private actors in order to provide for thousands of desperate people.
Working closely with Schmidt Futures and the Yalda Hakim Foundation – Mr. Cohen was personally involved in all these efforts – we managed to conceive of a new model of humanitarian operations, that did not simply allow us to provide accommodation, food, and care for our Afghan guests, but I believe, it also provided us with an out of the box idea on how crisis management and humanitarian aid can work if public and private actors join forces.
During our humanitarian operations, we saw firsthand how efficient the private sector can be in providing humanitarian assistance and essential logistical support in a timely manner if you partner up with them. It was out of this experience that the idea for a Public-Private Humanitarian Partnership was born.
Albania has worked hard with its partners and, in particular, in Schmidt Futures to explore this new idea and how public-private humanitarian partnerships can be advanced by building a Private Sector Humanitarian Alliance.
The Alliance is conceived as a platform whose primary mission will be to mobilize resources more efficiently within the first few days of any crisis situation that requires humanitarian aid. It will connect private sector and philanthropy actors to international organizations or NGOs so that the necessary aid can flow through their existing channels and mechanisms within the crucial first days.
All will be done in full compliance with the UN principles of Humanitarian Aid and those of all its crisis response organizations!
We are happy and proud of what we have achieved so far, together with Schmidt Futures and other partners, including the founding members of the Alliance, and a number of representatives are here in attendance.
Throughout our work on this platform, we have been thrilled to see the level of generosity and motivation of major private sector companies and philanthropies.
We believe that advancing this idea of a public-private humanitarian partnership is not only necessary but the right thing to do!
We look forward to the consolidation of the Alliance and its work in the months and years ahead to the benefit of a better response to the growing needs worldwide.
By working together, we can maximize the impact of assistance, save more lives, and build resilient communities in the face of adversity.