Claire Irish
Former Communications Intern


March 17, 2023


Six weeks after a series of devastating earthquakes struck Türkiye and Syria, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation led two discussions during the U.S.-Türkiye Business Forum: Prioritizing Resilient Partnerships, convened with the U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Türkiye Business Council on March 13. As the region begins to focus on recovery to meet humanitarian needs, this creates opportunities for strengthening relationships and building stronger, more resilient communities.

The event featured key stakeholders, including Türkiye’s Minister of Trade Dr. Mehmet Muş, Ambassador to the U.S. Murat Mercan, U.S. Ambassador to Türkiye Jeffry Flake, Deputy Secretary of State John Bass, Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander, as well as private sector leaders from both countries, to discuss the private-public collaboration needed to facilitate a robust and resilient recovery. The importance of preparedness and partnerships was stressed to accelerate recovery and resilience with small businesses, supply chains, digital technologies, hospitality, energy, and the environment.

U.S. Chamber Foundation Senior Vice President Marc DeCourcey joined Laura Lane, UPS Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Officer, for a discussion on earthquake preparedness, small business resilience, and the long-standing partnership between UPS and the U.S. Chamber Foundation to support small business owners before, during and after disasters.

For example, Resilience in a Box is a collaboration between the U.S. Chamber Foundation and UPS established after the 2011 Van earthquakes in Türkiye. This initiative helps educate small businesses on disaster preparedness and resilience in times of disaster. Resilience in a Box, known as Sağlam KOBİ in Türkiye, was activated immediately after the recent earthquakes in collaboration with Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce. The program is being actively promoted to other communities by the United Nations.

As rubble continues to be removed, opportunities for companies to shape long-term recovery emerge. U.S. Chamber Foundation Vice President for Global Resilience Rob Glenn led a discussion with leaders from Türkiye’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK), Google, Marriott and PepsiCo to assess long-term and strategic private-public partnerships that can have a positive impact across the region.

“We're not stopping even when it leaves the headlines,” said Apoorva Gandhi of Marriott. “The initial wave of response must be continued through long-term partnerships as recovery turns to rebuilding.”

Caroline Berson from PepsiCo highlighted the importance of “partnering not just with local organizations, but also global organizations.” This balance allows for insights into what is needed on the ground and how help can be best distributed.

DEIK representative Merih Kepez emphasized the need to build more private-public partnerships on the ground to support rebuilding efforts to help impacted communities get back on their feet.

Nicholas Bramble from Google called attention to how data can be an impactful tool in private-public partnerships to act quickly and collaboratively. Understanding data and analytics around disasters allows organizations to prepare resiliency strategies, provide early warnings, bolster rapid response, and tackle solutions together.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is currently tracking more than $111.98 million in humanitarian support from 176 companies. This will only grow as the commitment to supporting recovery and rebuilding efforts continue.

Key Takeaways

  • Organizations should prioritize building back communities and ensuring the physical and mental safety of those affected. Consider not only the damage done to infrastructure, business or the economy, but also the trauma experienced in the disaster and how you can leverage your resources to help there as well. Mental health resources will be a vital part of recovery in these communities.
  • Consider the components of a successful partnership. Organizations should focus on partnerships where they can leverage existing strength points including product or service offerings, while incorporating adaptation capacity to address future response needs.
  • Be proactive, not just reactive. Building resilience requires planning before disaster strikes. Start partnerships now so you can bring the right tools to the table when they are needed for immediate response and recovery. Investing in resilience now builds stronger capacities in the future.

Related: Secretary Blinken thanks business community for aid response

The U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Marc DeCourcey and UPS’s Laura Lane also joined Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on March 7 for a discussion on the continued corporate effort to aid Türkiye in their recovery, along with other private sector leaders. Secretary Blinken thanked the business community for its remarkable humanitarian response and affirmed that the private sector will continue to play a critical role in long-term recovery and rebuilding as the region rebounds from this crisis. UPS was a leader in immediate response to the earthquakes, deploying trucks and supplies to affected areas within 24 hours. “We mobilized not just our resources, but our people, our time and our talent to provide that hope and that opportunity for the possibility of recovery after the earthquake hit,” said Lane.

Supporting the humanitarian response:

If your company is interested in post-earthquake recovery and rebuilding:

  • Visit the U.S. Chamber Foundation resources page.
  • Share how your company is contributing by clicking here.
  • Save the date for the U.S. Chamber Foundation Building Resilience Conference on July 26-27, 2023, at U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington, D.C.

About the authors

Claire Irish