Honorary Co-Chairs: George F. Russell Jr. and John C. Whitehead
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The Business-Humanitarian Forum, established in 1999, has continuously worked to bridge the gap of understanding and promote cooperation between humanitarian organizations and private business, encouraging both sectors to work together to solve complex development problems. The BHF does this by participating in private sector development projects in poor countries; by bringing together entrepreneurs from least developed countries with potential supporters; and through dialogue and training.  In all this work, the BHF builds awareness that business has strong, long-term interests in supporting the work of the humanitarian community; both the private and public sectors have common interests in the stabilization of developing and post-conflict societies.
The BHF uses the synergy of public-private cooperation to build sustainable economic enterprises in post-conflict and developing areas.  In this regard, the BHF expands on the business sector's corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs to motivate and energize such projects.
When the BHF began its work in 1999, the concept of working with the private sector to enhance economic development in cooperation with public sector organizations was a new idea. There was much misunderstanding between the two sectors, with the consequent result that the resources of the private sector were not able to be appropriately used to alleviate humanitarian problems and create economic development. Public organizations and civil society in general simply had no idea of how to work with the private sector, whereas the latter remained deeply suspicious of the public sector and what was perceived to be its anti-business attitudes.
The BHF has persistently worked to promote better understanding between the two sectors in the interest of showing how cooperation could result in both sectors achieving their goals. A continuing series of forums, meetings, conferences and workshops is specifically designed to spread this message. The BHF also engages in practical applications of its philosophy and mandate, building specific concrete projects on the ground in post-conflict areas such as Afghanistan, the Balkans and southern Africa that demonstrate the benefits of public-private sector cooperation. These projects are concrete expressions of cooperation between public and private organizations to reconstruct the economies of war-torn countries in a practical way, providing sustainable employment and locally-owned production facilities for these societies.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan explicitly recognized the importance of the Business-Humanitarian Forum's objectives, stating to the Forum's first meeting in 1999 that the "business community has a crucial role to play" in humanitarian work since "expanding markets and human security and well-being go hand in hand."
For the full text of the Secretary General's remarks, click here.
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Newsletter December 2009
Annual Report
BHF-FESS Workshop Report, Sept. 30
Workshop on Rethinking Cross-Sector Partnerships in Times of Economic Crisis, June 25
Business Humanitarian Forum
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