According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, in 2015, the total economic costs of violence on gross domestic product (GDP) stood at US$13.6 trillion. This figure is enormous – equalling the GDPs of Brazil, Canada, France and the United Kingdom combined. Moreover, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters reports that, from 2002 to 2012, an average of 350 natural disasters occurred annually, incurring a yearly average of US$130 billion in economic damage.
These facts beg the question: During times of war, during times of natural disaster and thereafter, how can actors minimise destruction, maintain normalcy and restore economies?
Obvious answers include reconciliation efforts from governments and humanitarian aid from non-governmental organisations. Indeed, much has been written on the efficacy and ethics of these entities. However, an often-overlooked actor is the private sector, particularly employers and business membership organisations (EBMOs). Within ‘stable times’, EBMOs play a critical role in job creation and enterprise development. Following this, EBMOs should stand as an obvious and highly visible agent for facilitating economic reconstruction. Yet, surprisingly, restoration efforts often do not prioritise the private sector. Rather, renewal programmes often emphasise governmental institutions.
To better understand how the private sector can swiftly restore societies and advance current theories of social and economic reconstruction, the International Labour Organization (ILO) commissioned several studies on ‘fragile zones’ that examine the role of EBMOs in peacekeeping and recovery projects, an area that has sorely been under-researched. These reports focus on Asia, closely examining the conflicts within Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as natural disasters occurring in Myanmar and the Philippines. These case studies are an important first step in illuminating the positive roles EBMOs can play.
Because it is easy to feel discouraged diving into these topics, particularly ethnic conflict and civil war, QUO deployed positive visual motifs to convey the ILO’s key messages, which emphasise peace, resilience and healing. Our visual identity relies on blueprints to convey an ethos of progress and construction, as well as silhouettes of humans from all walks of life to highlight the imperative of peaceful cooperation. The collection comprises a master report on the ‘private sector and conflict-affected zones interface’, a standalone report on economic reconstruction after the civil war in Sri Lanka and a standalone report on disaster preparedness, robustness and recovery in the Philippines. QUO is currently collaborating with the ILO on a forthcoming report on disaster preparedness in Myanmar.
See Also: ILO Launches Ambitious Study on Technology and Work in ASEAN