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Business Leaders Collaborating to Stop Ebola

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UN Global Compact
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(New York, 11 December 2014) – Over 150 representatives of business, civil society, Governments and the United Nations came together today for discussions aimed at enhancing the effectiveness and impact of “UN-Business Collaboration for Global Ebola Response.” The urgency and immediacy of this crisis requires extraordinary efforts to work together to stop Ebola.

Jointly hosted by the UN Global Compact and the UN Foundation, together with the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), the event provided a unique opportunity to improve and strengthen collaborative efforts to respond to the Ebola crisis, identify new opportunities for partnership and to share lessons learned with a view to improving the framework for cross-sector partnership to address future global emergencies that threaten the health of communities and markets.

While serious economic challenges exist, the private sector is showing leadership to stop the outbreak. The UN Global Compact is supporting groups like the Ebola Private Sector Mobilization Group (EPSMG) to scale up their efforts. Over 50 companies, including major multinationals and many African companies, have already signed the Global Compact’s Business Action Pledge on Ebola Elimination. These companies have committed to a wide range of actions beyond business as usual:

  • Supporting sustainable economic development in Western Africa in the long term;

  • Training staff and communities to prevent infection and fight stigma;

  • Providing financial and in-kind resources to Ebola responders (UN, NGOs and Governments);

  • Committing to support post-outbreak recovery efforts and strengthening of healthcare systems; and Promoting similar action across supply chains.

Today’s event helped participants to better understand work underway and to explore joint solutions to move past some of the impediments that exist. Speakers showcased a range of important partnerships emerging across sectors to fight Ebola – from new medicines, diagnostics and vaccines, to financial services and partnerships that leverage information and communications technologies (ICTs) in new ways. But, according to participants, new collaborations and relationships can be challenging to operationalize, and take time to perfect.

In his keynote remarks, Dr. David Nabarro, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Ebola highlighted the many ways in which business is already contributing to response and recovery efforts. “The private sector has an absolutely vital role to play and is doing so,” said Nabarro. “Committed companies are providing vehicles and warehouses to move materials, contributing to the continued function of ports, which would otherwise be closed, and the IT sector has been active in collecting health information.” He closed by saying, “We should be proud. Business is making a difference.”

According to UN Global Compact Executive Director Georg Kell, “A great spirit of collaboration is emerging in response to Ebola. The affected governments and communities, the international community, the entire UN system, NGOs and the private sector have formed an unprecedented coalition to end the Ebola outbreak and support long-term recovery.”

In addition to supporting business in Ebola response, the Global Compact is expanding efforts to advance a culture of corporate responsibility and sustainability in Africa through its Local Networks and issue-specific engagement platforms in areas such as women’s empowerment, anti-corruption, and business for peace.

Today’s discussions laid important groundwork for improving collaboration to address Ebola, but also helped advance an emerging framework for UN-business partnership to better respond to future health and humanitarian emergencies. Lessons shared and priorities identified at the meeting will feed into upcoming discussions on Ebola at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, among other opportunities.

View the agenda

Sign the Business Action Pledge on Ebola Elimination

Contact Angus Rennie Project Manager, UN-Business Partnerships United Nations Global Compact rennie@unglobalcompact.org