GSMA launches Humanitarian Connectivity Charter

Date: Fri, 03/06/2015 - 20:58

MNOs to implement disaster response initiative to ensure effective and predictable response during times of crisis
GSMA launches Humanitarian Connectivity Charter

Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA

Image credited to GSMA

The GSMA announced at Mobile World Congress 2015 the launch of an industry-wide Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, demonstrating the commitment of the mobile industry to support customers and responders before and during humanitarian emergencies. Through the Charter, mobile network operators (MNOs) will commit to a common set of principles and work towards the adoption of initiatives focused on humanitarian connectivity. The aim of this initiative is to create a more coordinated and predictable response to disasters. The first operators to adopt the principles in the Charter are Axiata, Etisalat, Ooredoo and Smart Communications, who collectively represent over one billion subscribers in 35 countries.
“Mobile networks and the connectivity that they provide can be a lifeline for those affected by natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. “To date, mobile operators, through services such as early warning systems and SMS information campaigns, have demonstrated their commitment to citizens during adverse events. The Humanitarian Connectivity Charter will strengthen preparedness and collaboration within the industry, ensuring that mobile operators are undertaking measures to prepare their own operations, support subscribers and equip responders to face the growing challenge presented by humanitarian emergencies around the world.”
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said, "I congratulate the GSMA and its membership for developing this partnership with the humanitarian community, which will enable people affected by crises to gain access to vital communications.”
“Ooredoo and the founding signatories believe that our industry has a clear and vital role to play in advance of and during humanitarian disasters,” said Dr. Nasser Marafih, Group CEO, Ooredoo and Chairman of the Board of the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation. “By adopting the principles of the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, we are looking to take our activities in this area to the next level and we believe there is scope to enhance and improve our efforts with great cooperation and collaboration across the mobile industry.”
The launch of the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter reflects the growing recognition within the mobile industry and among government and responding stakeholders of the crucial role that mobile plays during humanitarian crises. Mobile devices are often one of the first things people reach for when disaster strikes; for example, one of the first requests by those displaced on Sinjar Mountain in Iraq was a means to charge their mobile phones so that they could obtain information, to locate loved ones and to become involved in response efforts. Additionally, mobile operators in Iraq have since collaborated to secure a country-wide short code in support of a humanitarian information service for those affected by the conflict. These kinds of initiatives will be worked towards for global adoption by the Charter signatories.
The impact of these crises continues to grow. Over the last decade, 1.8 billion people have been affected by disasters around the world. The challenges posed by these crises are too large for any single entity to address individually and the Charter will provide a vehicle for driving collaboration and partnership both within the industry and with external partners. In this context, ensuring preparedness and resiliency is critical from both a sustainability and business perspective.
The Charter is supported by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the UN Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). It was created following two years of industry workshops and collaboration facilitated by the GSMA Disaster Response programme, in association with UN agencies, mobile operators, vendors and non-government organisations (NGOs).
Bouverot continued, “The Humanitarian Connectivity Charter recognises the unique and enabling role of mobile networks in many communities today and how they become a critical partner to those affected by crisis, by providing the fundamental tools needed for improved coordination and action during times of humanitarian disaster. The GSMA, together with the UN OCHA, is encouraging mobile operators to globally commit to the Charter in order to enable an even more unified and effective response during times of crisis.”
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