Addressing Disaster Relief: Not the Easiest Path

February 4, 2008

By Lisa Hamilton, UPS Foundation, President

At last month’s meeting in Davos, the United Nations made an announcement about a collaboration of competitors (UPS, TNT and Agility Logistics) to address logistical issues in the face of humanitarian disasters. 

The idea seems like a no-brainer. By working together in lock step, the companies would collectively make a bigger impact at times when results are measured not in volume or revenue, but in children fed and lives saved.

Easier said than done.

The companies worked together for two full years before we were ready to make this announcement.

It began as a series of meetings and last year the preliminary plans were tested – the companies convened a pilot run. Representatives traveled to several locations in Indonesia to be trained about the UN’s supply chain and make operational suggestions along the way.

It was on this shared journey that the importance of the mission was brought home.

UPS and TNT also made progress last year, by working with UN food agencies (in Panama and Ghana) to provide warehouse space that is centrally located to serve as a regional relief depot.

As UPS International President Dan Brutto noted in BusinessWeek.com, “While not the easiest path, by working with each other and with the humanitarian community, we can be better prepared when the need is greatest.” 

Over the past two years, it has become even clearer how much more we can do by collaborating.

Our dedication to moving forward and making the extra effort is even stronger. How much stronger could the effort be if additional companies joined in?