Why do we want to engage businesses in manmade disaster contexts?

Tiina Mylly • 16 March 2020

Violent conflicts kill people and exacerbate hunger and displacement around the world. The recent Global Humanitarian Overview reports acknowledge this trend and have highlighted that the majority of humanitarian needs are indeed driven by conflict. Needs have also persistently been greater than available resources – and they keep increasing. While aid organizations have a good understanding of what is needed most urgently and by whom, in 2019 even more people needed humanitarian assistance than had been forecast. This was largely due to conflicts and extreme climate events.[1]

It should therefore not come as a surprise to anyone that all actors are needed to address the needs of affected populations. We now know that companies too can play an important role in preventing, responding to and recovering from manmade disasters. They have delivered relief aid to secluded areas, provided education services to refugee children, (re-)built critical infrastructure, advocated for policy changes. Yet we need more companies to step up.

While the main responsibility for addressing humanitarian and development issues rests with governments and organizations like the UN, the incentive for companies to support their efforts should be quite obvious. Companies cannot operate in environments that fail. Conflict and instability are bad for business.

There are opportunities for governments, humanitarian and development organizations to leverage what the private sector can offer. While their unique skills, resources and expertise are increasingly acknowledged, companies are still not recognized as ‘frontline implementors’. 

For the past two years, the CBi Secretariat has been working in the area of manmade disasters. After having developed and piloted a guidance toolkit for private sector networks, we are now exploring what and with whom can we do next. Do you want to join us? Please reach out because - as the famous quote asks - “If not us, who? And if not now, when?”.


[1] Global Humanitarian Overview 2020