Resilience, Peace and Security

Albania to launch private sector alliance to boost humanitarian aid

In July, the number of people in need of humanitarian aid hit a record 360 million, according to the UN.

In July, the number of people in need of humanitarian aid hit a record 360 million, according to the UN. Image: REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Spencer Feingold
Digital Editor, Public Engagement, World Economic Forum
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  • This summer, the number of people in need of humanitarian aid worldwide hit a record high.
  • During Albania's presidency of the UN Security Council, the country proposed a new public-private humanitarian alliance.
  • The initiative aims to utilise private sector expertise to make humanitarian efforts more effective.

Albania has proposed the creation of a new private sector pact to help get humanitarian aid into crisis and conflict zones more quickly.

The country, which holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of September, announced the launch of the Private Sector Humanitarian Alliance earlier this month. The alliance, Albanian Foreign Minister Igli Hasani said, could help humanitarian organizations “gain improved efficiency and effectiveness” and open up new funding mechanisms.

“Year after year, crisis after crisis, we are faced with a shortage of funds and available aid, despite the generosity of donors,” Hasani stated during a Security Council open debate on advancing public-private humanitarian partnerships. “A greater and more structured contribution by the private sector, we believe, can go a long way toward addressing this pressing shortfall.”

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The need for humanitarian aid has soared in recent months as the climate crisis, war and conflict, rising food prices and the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to strain global development. In July, the number of people in need of humanitarian aid hit a record 360 million, according to the UN. The figure marks a 30% increase since January.

The UN’s mid-year Global Humanitarian Overview found that humanitarian funding requirements to aid roughly two-thirds of those in need reached $55.2 billion. By the end of July, the UN’s report stated, donors had provided just 25% of the needed funds for 2023.

The gap between humanitarian needs and donor funding is alarming.

Hedda Samson, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to the UN

Hedda Samson, the Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the UN, added during the Security Council session that the “international community should find creative new ways” to accelerate humanitarian responses. “Involving private sector actors, in partnership with traditional public sector actors, can improve the humanitarian response, particularly in two ways: logistics and financing,” she stated.

The Private Sector Humanitarian Alliance, Hasani said, would serve as a platform to connect humanitarian actors with private sector resources and expertise — particularly in the first few days following a crisis. The noted proficiencies include the use of advanced technology, supply chain logistics, telecommunications and transportation, to name a few.

Baggage handlers offload humanitarian aid in the Democratic Republic of Congo in March 2023.
Baggage handlers offload humanitarian aid in the Democratic Republic of Congo in March 2023. Image: REUTERS/Arlette Bashizi

Efforts to integrate private sector resources into public and non-governmental humanitarian work have been initiated in the past. In 2019, for example, the Humanitarian and Resilience Investing (HRI) Initiative was launched at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos. The initiative engages business and investors through strengthened collaboration with humanitarian and development actors to expand involvement in frontier markets beyond philanthropy and charity.

At the Security Council session held earlier this month, the representative of Switzerland cited the HRI and offered support for the Private Sector Humanitarian Alliance, noting that “partnerships like these can make a difference to millions of people on the ground.”

The session was also attended by private sector leaders. For instance, Michael Miebach, the Chief Executive Officer of Mastercard, stressed to the Council that “businesses cannot succeed in a failing world.”

“Money is important, but companies can offer so much more,” Miebach stated. “The private sector stands ready to tackle the challenges at hand in partnership with the public sector. We can use our core competencies to strengthen the infrastructure, innovate new approaches and deliver solutions at scale.”

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