Vanuatu Business Resilience Council
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Vanuatu Business Resilience Committee was launched on 6 July 2017 to help strengthen the private sector through:
- Establishing a clear entry point for the private sector to participate and engage within the climate change and disaster risk reduction sectors;
- Providing a regular forum for dialogue and collaboration between the public and private sector, especially in regards to climate change issues, disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness, response and recovery;
- Raising awareness among the private sector about climate change and disaster risk management;
- Strengthening resilience of businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises through capacity building programs to help withstand and recover from shocks, including business continuity planning;
- Formalizing involvement within official national disaster management and climate change planning, policies and processes, helping strengthen the linkage and coordination between the public and private sector;
- Identification of private sector capabilities, interests and needs as it relates to climate change and disaster risk management, especially in accessing climate finance;
- Sharing of best practices and successful case studies, helping inform future Public Private Partnership initiatives;
- Assisting businesses in securing business continuity preparedness training and resources through appropriate climate finance resources, including through international organizations.
In 2020, the Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) responded to COVID-19 and Tropical Cyclone Harold. On 5 April 2020, Tropical Cyclone Harold – a category 5 cyclone – struck land in Vanuatu, which became the first country to respond to a major cyclone while pandemic border closures were in place. The cyclone affected the livelihoods and homes of more than 100,000 people across the northern islands (in a country with a population of around 300,000). VBRC led the relief efforts by activating its cluster system to ensure effective coordination with the Government, the United Nations and NGOs. This included deploying the telecommunications teams to reconnect the islands after the cyclone and the shipping and logistics teams for relief and recovery efforts. VBRC undertook detailed technical damage assessments in the worsthit villages and conducted aerial, ground and marine assessments to provide the NDMO with recommendations on accessing remote settlements and organizing the logistics of immediate response items. VBRC also supplied over 35 tons of food and non-food items to 1,000 remote coastal households.9 After the cyclone, the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce (VCCI) and Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) designed a project to provide support for local women business owners to accelerate economic recovery in their communities. The VCCI was awarded a UN Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund Grant to fund this program, which is called Project Phoenix and began to be implemented in January 2021. It focuses on accelerating economic recovery by providing targeted business and leadership capacitybuilding to local women business owners who in turn will lead the recovery of their communities. Later, VBRC and Oxfam partnered to benefit vulnerable communities and support local businesses affected by multiple disasters including the tropical cyclone, COVID-19 and ash fall from Yasur Volcanoe in the south. The Oxfam Unblocked Cash project uses blockchain technology to provide tap-and-pay cards to provide direct assistance to families recovering from disasters or acute financial distress. The cards can be “loaded” with money and function like a debit card, allowing families to buy food, medicine, clothes, other emergency supplies and hardware for rebuilding destroyed homes. The initiative stemmed from an effort to shift the delivery model for humanitarian assistance away from goods and cash, through a market-friendly approach that gives beneficiaries more dignity and flexibility to purchase exactly what they prioritize for their recovery and includes local stores in the value chain, thus strengthening business recovery at the same time.
To learn more about the network, please go to the VBRC website.