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The Private Sector Challenge - Final Report


In support of building a better understanding and knowledge base of the private sector’s engagement in and contribution to Australia’s humanitarian action policy and strategic and operational work, the Humanitarian Futures Programme (HFP), King’s College London, with support from the Australian Civil-Military Centre (ACMC) has undertaken an action research project – The Private Sector Challenge - intended to enhance the understanding of civil-military stakeholders of the contribution of the private sector in crisis situations, including its form, roles, and trajectories of engagement. This Final Report presents the outcome of this research.

Research rationale, scope and methodology

The Private Sector Challenge project is underpinned by four inter-related hypotheses, namely, (i) that the types, dimensions and dynamics of humanitarian crises will continue to increase, in many instances exponentially; (ii) that the present humanitarian system is overstretched and does not have the capacity to respond to increasingly complex crises; (iii) that less traditional actors, particularly private sector organisations, will increasingly be turned to fill these capacity gaps; and (iv) that the private sector themselves increasingly recognise that their own sustainability will continue to be threatened by this changing context, justifying more systematic engagement in humanitarian action.

This points towards a need for disaster risk to become an intrical element of business planning, beyond business continuity. For this to occur, disaster management and business resilience need to be put forward in a clearer and more coherent way and as the more overarching driver of and rationale for the private sector’s engagement.

Whilst initiatives are emerging that aim to systematise the engagement of the private sector in humanitarian action, these initiatives have not yet addressed the fact that there is an overarching lack of evidence and understanding about private sector engagement in practice and what they can contribute – their added-value. Further, there has not been sufficient research into the current and potential ways the private sector can be more systematically harnessed to meet the capacity challenge for humanitarian action, and how opportunities and challenges play out in different operational settings. This project aims to take some steps towards addressing these issues and is framed around four interconnected themes:

• What is the Wider Context Shaping Humanitarian Action and the Emerging Role of the Private Sector?

• What does Private Sector engagement in Crisis Situations look like?

• How does the Private Sector Currently Engage with Governments, Militaries, and Aid Agencies?

• What are the Current Perspectives from Australian Stakeholders?

• What are Some Ways Forward?

These questions were approached via a desk based literature review, four country studies in Indonesia, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Somalia, as well as an adaptation of HFP’s Ferghana Valley 2035 Humanitarian Capacities Challenge (HCC) simulation exercise with relevant stakeholders from Australian agencies.

The Final Report of the Private Sector Challenge project pulls together all components of the research and presents key overarching findings and recommendations. The annexes of this report contain the other outputs of the project and are also found separately below.

Annex 1: Evolving Operational Contexts and the Role of the Private Sector in Humanitarian Action: Literature Review

Annex 2: Private sector engagement and collaboration with civil-military actors in disaster management in Indonesia: Learning and transforming since the 2010 simultaneous hazards

Annex 3: Private sector engagement and collaboration with civil-military actors in disaster management in the Philippines: Typhoons Washi and Bopha and beyond.

Annex 4: The Private Sector, the Solomon Islands and the Peace-Economic Dividend: Learning from the RAMSI Experience.

Annex 5: Prospects for an alternative approach?: The Private Sector in Somalia’s New Statebuilding Agenda

Annex 6: The Ferghana Valley 2035 Simulation Exercise User Guide