Delivered by: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Thank you, Mr. President, and I’d like to begin by thanking all our briefers for their very insightful remarks and ideas today. I also want to commend you, Foreign Minister, and the Albanian Presidency, on your initiative in hosting today’s open debate. Public-private partnerships are crucial in the humanitarian sector, and meetings such as this one are an important opportunity to learn how we can all be doing better. We welcome your innovation in bringing this topic to the forefront at the Security Council and the connectivity platform you’ve proposed that will no doubt have enormous impact.
Year after year, global humanitarian needs overwhelm the generous contributions of donors. This year alone, the UN has appealed for over 54 billion dollars, and until now, 80% of those funds remain unfulfilled.
This disconnect matches what the briefers today have made clear: we are facing a system in crisis. And the architecture of the past can no longer keep pace with the crises of the present. But as Mr. Cohen said, the institutional memory exists and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
Narrowing the gap means ushering in a modified system, one where public-private humanitarian partnerships are no longer considered simply useful additions to the core of humanitarian work; they are a crucial part of that core work.
This shift in model should be informed by the lessons of past successes and failures.
Earlier this year, the earthquakes in Syria and Türkiye forced us to confront the gap in our capabilities. Our Foreign Minister – His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan – travelled to the region to try to offer his support, and he witnessed those gaps firsthand. This scenario has tragically played out again in recent days in the Kingdom of Morocco and Libya as we witnessed the devastating impacts of this week’s earthquake and flooding. Our thoughts and condolences are with the families and loved ones of those lost in this tragedy.
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, governments and first responders need to launch complex processes and responses, then scale them up, all the while gathering and assessing information that feeds into that response. It all unfolds in real time and every second counts. It’s akin to building a plane while flying.
Embracing novel approaches and technologies is a way to learn from such experiences and leverage better responses, as Mr. Miebach outlined so clearly in his remarks.
In response to what we have seen over the past decade, the UAE has been developing a digital platform to support governments’ ability to better harness international support in the wake of natural disasters. By serving as a central information exchange and integrating advances in artificial intelligence, including machine learning, disaster-hit countries could use this digital tool to specify the types of aid needed at specific locations, and in what quantities, so they get what they need when they need it.
Why? Because we’ve seen firsthand that that gap exists.
We look forward to working on this with governments, the private sector, and humanitarian organizations in the coming months to launch a new tool to turbocharge our crisis response capabilities.
We’ve learned in our own country through the International Humanitarian City, the world’s largest humanitarian logistics hub, why agility matters so much in crisis response, but we need to see agility writ large across the humanitarian sector. Based in the UAE, the IHC is host to 62 humanitarian organisations, including major UN agencies, and 17 private sector companies. It works closely with the private sector, and its use of new technologies and public-private partnerships is enabling aid to reach those in need as quickly as possible.
Digital tools developed at the IHC are now being rolled out around the world. Yet even with the right tools in place, we must shape an environment that is agile and ready to bridge the gap between the public and private sectors in a humanitarian crisis.
In the past, these types of partnerships have not been without limitation, however. At the onset of the COVID pandemic, we lost crucial time.
Across the world, people died while countries reverted to old habits in the race for vaccines. Meanwhile, protracted disagreements over patents and intellectual property continued.
We must ensure that in a crisis, a system is in place where private sector organisations are fully incentivized and enabled to partner with governments in the non-discriminatory delivery of support. And that support must be equally accessible to all.
In the case of the UAE, our world-class aviation and logistics industries, with companies like Etihad, Emirates, and DP World, played a significant role in facilitating the country’s response to COVID-19, but also in our global response. At the height of the pandemic, the UAE sent 192 flights with UAE Aid directly to 135 countries.
So public-private partnerships, particularly in a crisis, are not only good practice, but being able to leverage that network has helped save lives. We now need to use the time when we are not in urgent crisis to adapt those lessons to our future responses and institutionalize that partnership.
Finally, we cannot forget that existing humanitarian needs continue to be amplified by our changing climate.
With a mismatch between the scale of the climate challenge and the financing to solve it, private-sector organisations and capital are key to turning the tide on decarbonization, adaptation, and mitigation efforts.
Understanding this, earlier this month the UAE announced a new public-private initiative between companies in the UAE and Africa50. The aim is to deploy 4.5 billion dollars to accelerate clean energy projects across the African continent.
Over the past 5 years, the UAE private sector has contributed over 250 million dollars to humanitarian efforts globally.
And as a country, we will continue to do our part leading on the development of the public-private humanitarian partnership model until the necessity and reality of global humanitarian contributions are one and the same. Thank you, Mr. President.