The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that joint efforts are critical in stemming the spread of the coronavirus, protecting the most vulnerable and making recovery a reality. In Mexico, the Connecting Business Initiative (CBi) is bringing together the private sector, United Nations entities, NGOs and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to strengthen the national response to COVID-19 and bolster recovery efforts. The official kick-off of COVID-19-related activities under the platform was announced on 20 July in an online event chaired by OCHA, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Center for Epidemiological Emergencies and Disasters (CENACED), in coordination with WHO/PAHO.
Mexico is one of the countries most affected by COVID-19 in Latin America, a region that has witnessed more than 3.7 million reported cases and more than 158,00 deaths as of 18 July 2020. With some 2,512 cases per 1 million inhabitants, Mexico ranks 11th in the region and is reporting an increasing trend of new infections.
With the pandemic presenting unexpected and multi-faceted challenges, the CBi initiative will build on CENACED’s experience as a private sector organization in Mexico dedicated to coordinating support in emergencies and disasters.
“We are pleased to see the recognition of the private sector as an indispensable actor in crises such as this pandemic,” said Luis Gómez, spokesperson for the CENACED Board of Directors and CBi focal point in Mexico, during the digital launch event. “Specifically, the CBi platform, driven by CENACED, OCHA and UNDP, will be able to strengthen the response in a coordinated manner and thus channel aid, especially in terms of food assistance, medical supplies and mitigating the poverty brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.”
The CBi platform, which has been operating as a “network of networks” in Mexico in partnership with CENACED, aims to provide an efficient and inclusive space for non-official organizations to meet and collaborate to strengthen coordination and information management.
As the first, and currently only, CBi in Latin America, Mexico is part of a CBi-supported network addressing COVID-19 in 10 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“At this time, we cannot afford not to engage local private sector networks in humanitarian response,” said Karen Smith, Programme Coordinator for the CBi. “We aspire to see more good models similar to CENACED, particularly in times when 43 per cent of the world population live in areas especially vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters and crises or conflict,” she added.
CBi networks have also responded to health crises in the past, including measles and pneumonic plague epidemics. The networks have demonstrated the power of collective action and the importance of the local private sector, building on their previous experiences to respond to COVID-19.
CBi, which is jointly managed by OCHA and UNDP, is the only joint initiative between UN organizations at the intersection of the humanitarian, development and peace agendas that engages with the private sector.