First-Ever World Humanitarian Summit to Scale Up The Business Response in Crisis

Photo by UN OCHA.

Right now, this very second, families across the world are forced to make what the UN so poignantly declared ‘impossible choices.’ Faced with risking their lives by remaining in their homes, families in war-torn Syria opt to embark on dangerous journeys seeking refuge in neighboring countries like Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Many times, these families are forced to make difficult decisions given constricted legal options to secure meaningful employment or stable housing. For some, this includes devastating choices like pulling children from school to help supplement income through labor or marrying off daughters to ensure that they are cared for. No child or family should have to suffer the consequences of these choices.

Next week, the international community will gather for the UN’s first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey to assess how governments, donors, the private sector, and civil society can partner to create impactful solutions to reduce humanitarian suffering. The Summit will revolve around a series of special and side events focused the theme of “Investing in Humanity.” The Summit will be the first of its kind in the 70-year history of the United Nations, revealing the true urgency of the event’s anticipated outcomes.  

Roughly 5,000 leaders will come together at the Summit to create solutions to conflict and its aftermath in an effort to #ShareHumanity. Catalyzing action to achieve gender equality, managing risks and crises associated with natural disasters and climate change, and creating solutions to address the record-number of migrants and refugees on the move will be key topics during the two-days of discussions.

Business will play a major role in addressing these issues as the international community looks to the private sector’s ingenuity and experience in delivering solutions at scale. The private sector has played an increasingly important role in development conversations in the lead up to the Summit, particularly in the education sector with the widely anticipated launch of the Education Cannot Wait fund, set to be launched on the first day of the Summit.

The fund’s launch, which will vastly improve the coordination, finance, and delivery of education for the 75-million children whose education was disrupted last year by emergencies and conflict will be at the forefront of the Summit agenda. Since the Oslo Summit last year when leaders officially agreed on the education in emergencies financing mechanism concept, GBC-Education members have played a key role in ensuring that the fund is inclusive of private sector contributions and expertise. GBC-Education partners and business leaders further embraced this opportunity by committing an equivalent of $75 million in financing and solutions to help 1 million Syrian refugee children resume learning in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan.

Prior to the opening of the Summit, the GBC-Education will convene over 150 high-level representatives  from the private sector, UN agencies, donor governments and multilateral agencies during a breakfast session, with a keynote address delivered by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The breakfast will highlight the leading role the private sector is playing to build effective partnerships, develop innovative solutions, and mobilize additional resources and financing to deliver education in crises.

GBC-Education members NRS International, Pearson, and Western Union will add to the Summit’s private sector presence through special side events, exhibits, and virtual advocacy alongside the summit; meanwhile, 10-plus GBC-Education members will join various dialogues at the Summit.
See how GBC-Education has been helping to deliver education in emergencies from the start.

To learn more about how business can contribute to this effort, please contact Lauren Lichtman ([email protected]) or Lorraine Charles ([email protected]).