The Business Alliance to End AIDS by 2030, a public–private coalition co-hosted by GBCHealth and UNAIDS, was announced on January 23rd in Davos, Switzerland, on the margins of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting.
The Business Alliance to End AIDS will unite forward-looking companies to strengthen cross-sector collaboration, build on common values and create spaces for effective collaboration. It aims to provide businesses with the necessary tools and support needed from public sector partners to help realize the goal of ending AIDS by 2030.
The Alliance builds on the foundation that GBCHealth established with the private sector at the height of the epidemic. Created in 2001 under founding President and CEO Richard C. Holbrooke, GBCHealth began its history as the “Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS”. At that time, HIV/AIDS soared at crisis levels and few companies had programs to protect their employees and communities. Today, thanks in part to our work, corporate health programs of all types are increasingly mainstreamed with dedicated staff and resources to deliver them. The collaboration around HIV/AIDS was the entry point for many companies across sectors in both their understanding of the business imperatives and engagement in public health issues.
Business continues to be essential to the AIDS response, from challenging the stigma surrounding HIV, to building innovative partnerships among companies across industries and implementing diagnosis, treatment and prevention programs within workplaces and surrounding communities. However, these models need to operate to scale to meet the gaps in investment and implementation to meet the target of ending AIDS by 2030.
“Responding to HIV matters to business, and businesses have been leaders in the global AIDS response for over two decades. Business innovations in products and services, relationships with employees, consumers and policymakers, core capabilities and logistics, data analytics, marketing and financial resources can all help to fill the gaps in publicly funded HIV testing, prevention and treatment programs. Forward-thinking businesses are needed to help develop holistic solutions and manage risk.” said Nancy Wildfeir-Field, President of GBCHealth. “We are at a crossroads. The future will be determined by what we do today.”
A WEF side event featured a panel discussion moderated by Filippo Veglio, Managing Director, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and included: Nolitha Fakude, Chairperson of Anglo American’s Management Board in South Africa; Patty O’Hayer, Global Head Communications & Government Affairs, Reckitt Benckiser; Nathalia Arcuri, YouTube Creator; Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; and Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. They discussed the role of business in the fight against AIDS, and how the Alliance can be structured to best support its members in realizing the goal of ending AIDS by 2030, such as by providing viable pathways for pragmatic cross-sector cooperation.
“Realizing a world free of AIDS is beyond the reach of one company. Business as usual will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, nor will innovation by a few pioneers. This agenda will require collaboration across sectors, supply chains and economic systems, as well as innovative partnerships with governments and civil society,” said Ms. Fakude. “Businesses have important resources and capabilities to contribute to the global AIDS response. When those assets are combined, the potential for greater impact increases significantly,” she added.
“Today, every single company must make a positive contribution to the societies they serve—this is not an option, this is an imperative. Beyond reaching their economic objectives, companies must deliver social and environmental impact. The private sector has a key role to play in the multisectoral response to HIV. Businesses must ensure that their employees, their suppliers and communities receive life-saving HIV treatment, prevention and care programs. Together, we can end AIDS by 2030,” said Ms. Byanyima.
The Business Alliance to End AIDS by 2030 will act as a vehicle and a collective voice in a push to disseminate best practices through public platforms, companies and their respective supply chains. In addition, it will serve as a collective body to help shape regulations and policies that support HIV prevention and treatment programs and end HIV-related stigma and discrimination. As a first step, GBCHealth and UNAIDS are gathering support for a Joint Business Statement which emphasizes the business community’s commitment to this fight.
The Alliance will focus on three action pillars:
- Advocacy, addressing both the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease as well as specific policies which are detrimental to tackling AIDS in both host communities and supply chains
- Workplace Policies, providing updated tools and frameworks to help companies improve internal policies, as well as leveraging and extending impact through their supply chains
- Corporate Interests and Competencies, ensuring that corporate expertise, innovation and voice can be effectively harnessed to realize an end to AIDS by 2030.
GBCHealth and UNAIDS will continue to bring together companies to strengthen collaboration and seize this historic opportunity to end one of the major health crises of the past 100 years. In 2020 we will be building out the working groups for the Alliance, and there are opportunities for companies and organizations to join and help shape the direction of the Alliance’s activities. The initiative has so far attracted both champions of the cause from the early years of the fight as well as new organizations who want to help fight AIDS at regional and global levels.