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Rebuilding Haiti for Sustainable Success

February 8, 2010

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While the world is still grappling with the pressing need to save lives in the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters to hit the Western hemisphere, it is also confronted with the challenge of rebuilding Haiti into a prosperous nation with a sustainable economy.  From the ashes and devastation may come Haiti’s greatest opportunity to construct a solid and stable country that can actively participate in and contribute to the world economy.

But Haiti cannot do it alone, and it is in the interest of all nations to help.  Building on the resilience of the Haitian people, the public sector must join forces with the private sector not only to feed Haiti, but to provide the nation with the tools to feed itself.  Governments and NGOs along with corporate entities must work together with the Haitian government on a plan for Haiti’s rebirth and long-term prosperity. 

A few elements are critical to successfully accomplish this task.  First, each organization must be allowed to do what it knows how to do best.  Just as with the ongoing relief efforts, roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined and respected if there is to be progress.  International and Haitian relief organizations, policy makers, security agents, logistical experts and many others must work on a plan with a singular, common goal.  Without this, Haiti will fail.

Infrastructure.  Efficient roads, ports, facilities and transportation networks must exist to get development under way.

Education.  In the mid- to long-term, the Haitian people must have access to education in order to grow sustainable businesses with a skilled and competitive workforce.

Entrepreneurship.  Policy makers and private sector contributions must enable and empower micro and small businesses to start and flourish in order to build and fuel a stable economy. 

Free trade.  Haiti’s prosperity will depend on access to the global marketplace; unnecessary trade barriers that stunt the growth of so many economies today, must be avoided.

At FedEx, we consider these to be crucial components of sustainability, and we feel it is our role to connect the world in responsible and resourceful ways.  Many corporations can positively impact the future of society, and I believe it is not only our responsibility to do so, but also makes good business sense.  A healthy, prosperous Haiti benefits us all.

Naturally, there are many other areas of concern, such as agriculture and energy, healthcare and civil liberties – the same concerns faced by so many developing and developed nations today.  But Haiti is now in a position to start with a clean slate.  If managed collaboratively, in partnership with the Haitian government and leveraging the strength of its greatest natural resource – its people – Haiti could conceivably become a model nation, and evidence that the public and private sector, together, can get it right.

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