Q&A: IKEA Foundation CEO on the role of the private sector in humanitarian response

By Lisa Cornish 10 April 2017

A Syrian father and his sons in northern Iraq carry bedding aid items donated by the IKEA Foundation. Photo by: C.Robinson / UNHCR

The IKEA Foundation is becoming an increasingly stronger voice urging greater involvement of the private sector in humanitarian response, and smarter ways of providing support to refugees and those displaced by conflict and disaster.

They have provided funding of $2.7 million to Save the Children and Médecins Sans Frontières to protect children and their families in Yemen. They have partnered with Oxfam to invest $7.8 million in innovative programs to help developing countries respond to emergencies. They have invested in improving humanitarian leadership and capacity through support for the Center for Humanitarian Leadership and their Humanitarian Leadership Program. And they have launched a range of challenges calling for new ideas to improve the lives of refugees globally.

The IKEA Foundation is providing leadership by example, but they want more of the private sector to step up and play their part in protecting and supporting those most vulnerable to disaster, with a focus on children.

Devex spoke with Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation, ahead of his visit to Australia in April for the Asia Pacific Humanitarian Leadership Conference on the foundation’s role in leading change and support for humanitarian responses. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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About the author

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Lisa Cornishlisa_cornish

Lisa Cornish is a Devex reporter based in Canberra, Australia. Lisa formerly worked with News Corp Australia as a data journalist for the national network and was published throughout Australia in major metropolitan and regional newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph in Melbourne, Herald Sun in Melbourne, Courier-Mail in Brisbane and online through news.com.au. Lisa additionally consults with Australian government providing data analytics, reporting and visualization services. Lisa was awarded the 2014 Journalist of the Year by the New South Wales Institute of Surveyors.

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