Fiji Business Disaster Resilience Council formed
Role to assist businesses affected by disaster and strengthen private sector engagement in a collective response
Fijian businesses have formally joined forces with the Government, the United Nation (UN) and civil society organisations to establish the Fiji Business Disaster Resilience Council.
The role of the council is to assist businesses affected by disaster and strengthen private sector engagement in a collective response. This was highlighted by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the World Humanitarian Summit Special Session on Connecting Business on Tuesday at Istanbul, Turkey. “We are especially looking to the private sector to introduce new technologies to deal with climate change,” he said. He said the Council was being showcased at this Summit as part of the Connecting Business Initiative ad he commended it to them as a model that could be replicated in any country prone to natural disasters. According to Mr Bainimarama, Government’s cannot do everything, nor do they have a monopoly or wisdom or efficiency. “So the Fijian Government regards its private sector as a vital partner in national development,” he said. “Whether it is through the forging of public-private partnerships to run vital infrastructure such as its ports, or bringing the business community into the heart of decision-making in some of our national and regional organisations.”
The private sector, he said, was a vital partner with Pacific governments in the Pacific Islands Development Forum - the organisation they set up specifically to give the business community and representatives of civil society a voice in regional decision-making. The authentic voices of the grass roots in Pacific society that had been excluded from our other regional body, the “governments only” Pacific Islands Forum.
This was a significant participation by business in trying to address the root cause of the extreme weather events and other natural disasters caused by climate change.
Private sector here
But in Fiji, Mr Bainimarama said participation went much further. “When Fiji was struck three months ago by Tropical Cyclone Winston, the business community swung into action to assist in the relief and rehabilitation effort, providing Fijians with all manner of assistance at a time of desperate need,” he said.
The Fiji Institution of Engineers sent teams of inspectors to assess the damage at the 229 schools that were struck by the 300 kilometre an hour winds.
And its detailed evaluation of their needs has given us the precise information required to launch an “Adopt a School” programme to get our children back into proper classrooms.
Fiji’s hardware companies, he said, were partnering with the Government in a national “Help for Homes” programme to give Fijians the means to fix or rebuild the 40,000 homes that were damaged or destroyed.
And at every turn, the private sector was at the forefront of the relief effort, whether through donations in cash or in kind or assisting the authorities with logistics.