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The private sector has a responsibility to use its power, influence and resources

Yousef Al-Obaidly is the CEO of beIN MEDIA GROUP, a proud member of the Global Humanitarian Action Executive Alliance (GHAEA) since 2020.

The sports industry is built on seminal moments.

Almoez Ali’s overhead kick in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Final; Serena Williams winning her 23rd Grand Slam at the 2017 Australian Open; or Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer beating shot in the 2019 NBA play offs.

These moments of heart-stopping drama over the past few years were broadcast all around the world, including by beIN SPORTS.

But in 2020, the most significant moment for our organisation was one that wasn’t broadcast.

It was when Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) praised beIN MEDIA GROUP Chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi for our help supporting the global response to COVID-19.

The coronavirus pandemic has tested the humanity and resilience of every family, business and government around the world. Everyone needed to step up.

At beIN, without hesitation, we immediately supported the WHO on whatever was needed – tackling the initial (and continuing) disinformation about COVID-19; helping communicate the WHO’s ‘stay healthy at home’ messages; supporting the #SafeHands challenge and #WearAMask week. All broadcast across our network of 43 countries in five continents – on linear, digital and social and promoted by key talent – reaching millions of people in the Arabic, French, English and Spanish speaking world and also all across Asia-Pacific.

A highlight for our viewers, and our company, was the broadcast of the historic ‘One World: Together at Home’ virtual concert featuring Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder, David Beckham and Elton John and others; a first of its kind event. The show was a beautiful moment that displayed unity among all people affected by COVID-19, whilst celebrating and supporting brave healthcare workers doing life-saving work on the front lines. Importantly, it also raised $127.9 million to help combat COVID-19.

I have also taken pride in the way that beIN employees across the world embraced the cause and joined the partnership with WHO. For example in Singapore, where colleagues self-made an inspiring #SafeHands video encouraging football fans to wash their hands; or in Miami where colleagues produced a weekly colouring book with the hashtag #HealthyAtHome to keep children entertained and indoors.

We were able to act effectively thanks to our membership of the Global Humanitarian Action Executive Alliance (GHAEA), a collection of business leaders who combine their expertise and innovative skills to respond effectively to humanitarian emergencies. GHAEA was set up because the scale of existing humanitarian needs, combined with the overwhelming requirements of crises such as COVID-19, are fast outpacing the ability of traditional organisations to respond. A new approach was needed.

GHAEA works in support of all the agencies of the United Nations including the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR and the World Food Programme, allowing it to bring to the table cross-sector business approaches, and also to innovate rapidly in areas of most need.

That meant when the coronavirus pandemic hit, our members were able to move quickly to direct support to the agency most in need, on this occasion, the WHO. We’ve seen GHAEA members help mend broken supply chains; develop a new fundraising platform; and broadcast informed WHO messages around the world.

This strategic approach means that members can offer sustained and creative support. For example, during the Roland-Garros French Open tennis tournament this autumn, you will see how we are supporting the WHO Foundation by displaying a QR code on screens across the Middle East and North Africa so that subscribers can easily donate to the WHO. All donations made during the tournament will be used to support communities worldwide to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the kind of ongoing and collaborative support that’s needed to help UN bodies respond effectively to a crisis. Support should never be a one off, and our membership of GHAEA means that our business perspective and experience will be used to help inform future and existing partnerships. So, if today’s COVID-19 health crisis develops into a major food crisis in 2021, as a group we are agile enough to ensure our skills and expertise will be directed towards supporting UN agency humanitarian efforts in tackling that challenge.

During the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September, GHAEA hosted a high-level discussion on how public-private partnerships respond to a global emergency as part of the SDG Action Zone. The event underscored how bringing cross-sector business approaches, innovation, technologies and perspectives to the various agencies of the UN can create sustainable partnerships and solutions. It meant high level GHAEA members and UN representatives were able to better understand what is needed to deliver more effective partnerships to deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The event showcased SDG 17 in identifying specific partnerships to highlight what can be achieved through:

  1. Partnership preparedness, using existing infrastructure to respond to COVID-19.

  2. Quick moving dynamic new partnerships that respond quickly to humanitarian needs.

For GHAEA, it is clear that all business leaders and companies – regardless of industry, size or location – must stand in solidarity with the UN and the global community and join the fight against COVID-19.

The private sector has a responsibility to use its power, influence and resources to help those most in need and support international efforts.

Actions, not words alone, are what is needed.


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