World Humanitarian Summit - Statement by Minister De Croo during the Special Session ‘Connecting Business’
World Humanitarian Summit
Special Session - Connecting Business
Statement by Mr Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation, Government of Belgium
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last year was a very important year for the global community. With the combined successes of the Addis Ababa Conference, the New York Summit on Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, we seized the once-in-a-life-opportunity to change the course of our common future for the better. To leave no-one behind. To protect our planet.
We should be as ambitious this year. And we can do so if we build on the momentum of this historic and first World Humanitarian Summit.
To succeed, the challenge is pretty straightforward. We need to bridge the humanitarian and development divide. And just as we did while drafting the new Sustainable Development Goals, we have to – once again – reach out to the private sector.
PARTNERSHIPS WITH PRIVATE SECTOR
The engagement of the private sector, both in the humanitarian and development field, is one of Belgium’s main policy priorities.
The last year, I have been working very hard to step up the alliance with our private sector. I am actively working on a Belgian Charter on the role of our private sector in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals worldwide.
A strong partnership with the private sector will strengthen the effectiveness and impact of humanitarian actions. And it will provide much-needed scale-up of activities in disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness, response and recovery.
A striking example of how a single company can have a major impact in dire circumstances is the role Brussels Airlines took during the Ebola crisis in Western Africa. Being the only European carrier to maintain its flights to both Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the company truly saved these countries from isolation, from hampering Ebola efforts, from making it even more difficult.
This is precisely the sort of partnership which we should embrace and aim for in our policies.
As Minister for Digital Agenda, digital innovation and technology are very close to my heart.
In the last months, I have already gathered twice the Belgian digital private sector to discuss and promote the potential of innovative initiatives into the development and humanitarian field, with a special focus on our partner countries, mainly LDCs and fragile states in Africa.
In times of staggering humanitarian needs that are outpacing the ability of traditional actors to respond, we need the energy, the vision, the agility of the private sector, of start-ups, of innovators. That’s why we are making digital for development, attachment to innovation, a noticeable trademark of Belgium’s international development and humanitarian policies.
Talking about innovation, just a few hours ago, Belgium introduced together with the ICRC, the first ever Humanitarian Impact Bond, an innovative way of humanitarian financing. Other countries and private organisation are joining our efforts. I hope even more will follow so that we can broaden the donor base of this new way of humanitarian financing.
Finally, as Belgium joins the Connecting Business Facility initiative, it is my pleasure to announce my country is ready to provide funding of 270 000 euro (300 000 USD) to support its actions, with a preference of lightly earmarking for Belgian partner humanitarian priority zones/countries such as Sahel and the region of the Great Lakes, as we believe in the great potential of this initiative in these countries.
To conclude, I call upon the international community to follow Belgium’s example to engage with the Connecting Business initiative.
I am optimistic. As we are a growing number of supporters of Connecting Business, we should be enthusiastically communicating this confidence to our colleagues, within the international community, and inspire them to join this initiative.