Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Open Debate on Advancing Public-Private Humanitarian Partnership

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 14, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to Albania for hosting this important discussion. Executive Director McCain, thank you for working to make the World Food Program a leader in advancing partnerships with the private sector. And thank you to our private sector briefers, who have offered a compelling roadmap for other companies to follow.

As this Council knows all too well, the world’s most vulnerable are in a moment of great peril. Humanitarian needs are growing at a blistering pace. And the gap between funding provided and UN-assessed needs stands at nearly 40 billion dollars.

Every day, it feels like we see a new humanitarian crisis emerge. Just this Tuesday, we witnessed the catastrophic flooding that swept through Libya, claiming thousands of lives. And over the weekend, we watched in horror as a devastating earthquake rocked Morocco. We offer our condolences to the people of Libya and Morocco, and we stand in solidarity with them in this difficult time.

Colleagues, I shared during our briefing yesterday that I’d recently returned from a trip to Chad’s border with Sudan. The refugees that I met with were deeply, deeply traumatized. Women and girls had been victims of sexual violence. And children and babies were severely malnourished. This is a grave humanitarian emergency. And while aid workers I met are heroically working to save lives, they need the international community to provide them with more resources, and I encourage all in this room, as well as others, to give more.

Colleagues, this moment calls for bold action. It calls for breaking out of our business-as-usual model. It calls for thinking wholistically about how we address increasingly protracted crises. And it calls for everyone, not just Member States, but everyone with the means to do their part. And that’s why today’s debate on how to better engage the private sector is so important.

In recent years, four of the largest logistics corporations – UPS, Agility, Maersk, and DP World – regularly joined forces in the logistics cluster led by the World Food Program.

UN OCHA’s Connecting Business Initiative has broken ground, creating a network of independent chambers of commerce and private foundations committed to humanitarian response efforts.

And in places like Haiti, where gang violence is impeding humanitarian access, the private sector is playing a vital role. Through USAID’s partner Airlink, a disaster logistics nonprofit, commercial and private aviation organizations have created a humanitarian air bridge. Commercial airlines have donated capacity on their existing routes to transport aid, while logistics providers ensured the smooth movement of life-saving supplies. The result: a watershed partnership that ensured cholera treatment reached people in need.

The private sector has also stepped up to provide aid to the Ukrainian people, who are suffering from the devastating consequences of Putin’s brutal war of aggression. Last year, private sector organizations contributed cash and in-kind assistance to the Ukrainian response, as well as elsewhere in the world. And the World Central Kitchen, a pioneer in public-private partnerships, has worked with local restaurants to feed refugees on Ukraine’s border, and around the world.

Earlier this year, the private sector also contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the earthquake response in Türkiye.

Closer to home, the United States has been proud to work with organizations like the Tent Partnership for Refugees. Tent has mobilized its 300-plus corporate members to help refugees become job-ready and to provide them with work.

Colleagues, these examples are only a scratch of the surface. For too long, we have turned to the private sector exclusively for financing. And to its credit, it has shown enormous generosity. But in 2023, we know they have so much more to offer. Their capacities, their know-how, and innovations are tremendously needed.

The public sector must do more to proactively work with the private sector, especially as we look to advance the Sustainable Development Goals. The public sector must harness the expertise of the private sector and translate it into action.

It is past time to invest and scale this relationship. And it is past time for us to welcome the private sector through the front door. The world’s most vulnerable are counting on us. Let us act with urgency, and let us move forward in solidarity.

Thank you, Mr. President.