Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS) professor Dr. Benjamin Ryan delivered a presentation on how and why the private sector should be integrated into international disaster response Mar. 26.

The presentation was hosted Dr. Malinda Steenkamp and Ms. Johanna Garnett from the Torrens Resilience Institute, Flinders University, in Adelaide, Australia. The presentation was attended by representatives from the private sector, government and academia.

Dr. Ryan discussed how increased disaster frequency and intensity throughout the Indo-Pacific is progressively pushing humanitarian agencies beyond their ability to cope and while the use of the military in such situations is standard practice in the region, the powerful and well-resourced private sector remains untapped.

He outlined how a significant opportunity exists for humanitarian and disaster relief systems to develop strategies that enable the private sector to play a role. Achieving this would limit the worst effects of large-scale natural disasters and help mitigate future disaster impacts across the Indo-Pacific. However, Dr. Ryan described how the current design of international disaster systems limits private sector involvement.

Dr. Ryan recommends a paradigm shift from traditional “immediate response” activities to “productive initiatives” across the disaster cycle. This systems-wide change would require governments, U.N. agencies and humanitarian organizations to work cooperatively with the private sector to engage its capabilities before, during and after a disaster. He concluded by advising involvement of the private sector represents a vital next step in the evolution of humanitarian assistance that will help address the expanding global gap in humanitarian capacity and resources.

Dr. Benjamin Ryan is an associate professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. The views expressed in the article are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of DKI APCSS, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.