Olly Parsons | GSMA | Thu, 12 Feb 2015 13:52:20 +0000

“The private sector has long been a major contributor to humanitarian action. Businesses are often the first institutions to be affected, to respond and to use their experience, skills and resources to mitigate impact.” UN OCHA on the WHS business consultation process

This statement certainly reflects the actions of many of the mobile network operators that the Disaster Response programme works with. The critical importance of communications during and following a disaster, whether for coordination of responders or self-organised action of survivors, has been highlighted time and time again. Mobile networks are both vulnerable to shocks, and at the same time integral to their effective response. In disaster situations Mobile Network Operators are not only impacted businesses; they are first responders, critical infrastructure providers and above all, they are staffed by members of the community. These experiences place them in a unique position from which to inform new humanitarian models.

The GSMA Disaster Response Programme and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) will be holding a joint session at Mobile World Congress 2015. This session is one of a number of business consultations being organised by UN OCHA’s Private Sector Section (PSS) in the lead up to the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) to be held in 2016. It will form a fundamental element of the business consultation for the telecom industry.

World Humanitarian Summit

The WHS, initiated by the UN Secretary General in 2013, aims to leverage new partnerships, technologies, and ways of working to improve global response to natural and man-made disasters.  The goal of this summit, managed by UN OCHA, is to find new ways to tackle humanitarian needs in our fast-changing world. The summit, which will be the first-ever summit of this scale and scope, will set a new agenda for global humanitarian action when it culminates in May 2016 in Istanbul. (World Humanitarian Summit website)

Regional Business Consultations

The business consultations are intended to identify issues, solutions and recommendations from the private sector as contributions to the WHS regional, thematic and global consultations. The consultations are focused on local, global or thematic and industry specific challenges to also identify practical commitments for the improvement of emergency preparedness and response. They will provide a basis for building multi-sector networks for improved emergency preparedness and response where they do not already exist. The consolidated outcomes of the consultations will be incorporated into the Secretary-General’s report to the World Humanitarian Summit. (World Humanitarian Summit website)

The Role of Business in Humanitarian Crises

The role which Mobile Network Operators have performed in this space has been a major theme of the Disaster Response workshop series of the past two years. In a continuation of this conversation, this session will build on the outcomes of these previous workshops which have focused on catalysing the role of mobile in disaster preparedness and response. This session will present the work of GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter and identify other priority commitment areas for the mobile community in the consultation process of the WHS to be held in 2016.

More information about the WHS can be found here: More information

Expressions of interest can be sent to oparsons@gsma.com