Global Security and Stability


Global Security and Stability

Monday, September 12th, 2016 - 15:06
Monday, September 12, 2016 - 14:53
Addressing global security requires developing, leading, and managing sustainable public-private partnerships.

Global security and stability are becoming less obtainable due to a growing list of challenges. These challenges include, but are not limited to: proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; regional war among states; civil wars and failed states; international terrorism; global recession and poverty, international crime and drug cartels; and humanitarian crises and refugees. Many approaches have attempted to resolve these challenges; however, other means to resolve conflict and promote global security and stability are available and should be pursued more aggressively.  

Specifically, the holistic application of engineering and business as focused through the lens of social entrepreneurship can make a difference in empowering disadvantaged populations to help themselves. “Social entrepreneurship is the practice of combining innovation, resourcefulness and opportunity to address critical social and environmental challenges” (Skoll Centre, SBS, Oxford, 2016). It is a powerful tool by which for-profit and not-for-profit organizations can help others to help themselves, but gaps exist in the collective understanding of “who can” and “how should” these global challenges be addressed.

My interest is to advance the thinking and writing about public-private-partnerships, and how they are essential in government, business, and academia. I believe these partnerships are especially relevant in addressing the global threats of climate, pollution, security (or lack thereof), poverty, and migration.  Common to all of these threats are the disadvantaged communities they impact.  Disadvantages can be due to a number of social and economic conditions. These conditions are generally associated with lower educational opportunities and unfortunately are often also related to marginalized groups. Historically, significant resources have been dedicated to addressing disadvantaged populations within society.  One example is with respect to impoverished peoples across the globe, which have been growing despite unprecedented efforts on the part of many organizations.

Stakeholders who can help address this challenge include the public, private and academic sectors.  Current actors include: governments, not-for-profits, and for-profits -- all practicing some form of real or perceived social responsibility. However, often their efforts are not effectively integrated in a way that produces positive results. Typically, applied solutions come from one sector, which work independently of the other sectors. Another reason for the lack of success in addressing global threats and reducing the number of disadvantaged communities is because current solutions or strategies lack a sustainability component. Often the remedy involves delivery of near-term goods and services with no plan for how such goods and services will be maintained after initial relief efforts. Although these activities do often relieve pain and suffering, they only treat the symptom and not the cause. What is needed is a holistic solution that helps those in need to help themselves. I would propose that social entrepreneurship, as executed through public-private-partnerships, may be a viable solution to this problem.

One example that illustrates a case for social entrepreneurship is “Engineering the Peace,” a new public-private partnership approach to promote security and stability in Iraq, launched in 2008. Engineering the Peace applied social entrepreneurship through the integration of engineering and business that promoted economic stimulus. In this non-lethal effort, hundreds of Iraqi businesses were started using micro-financing from Coalition Forces.  Specific emphasis was placed on improving the existing infrastructure and the offering of essential services organized around the acronym SWEAT–H: sewage, water, electricity, academics (schools), trash, and health.

As these businesses executed thousands of projects funded by the US and the Government of Iraq (GOI), they were required to hire local young men with paid wages that exceeded what militia were paying the same population to place improvised explosive devices (IEDs).  Within weeks of implementing “Engineering the Peace,” local Iraqis were also providing unprecedented human intelligence (HUMINT) to Coalition Forces as to the whereabouts of the militia at great risk to their families and new businesses. This information was passed to Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), who in-turn executed focused security operations to disrupt militia activities. As the list of completed projects increased, intelligence improved, and the capabilities of the militia were significantly degraded.  

“Engineering the Peace” emboldened a risk-adverse population to engage in private enterprise to overcome a financial crisis embedded in extreme violence. It is a model that demonstrates how government and the private sector can collectively promote security and stability in disadvantaged communities, even in the most extreme conditions of war, if properly applied.

In the coming weeks and months, I will explore other models for multi-sector collaboration to address some of the most important challenges of our time.  I look forward to dialoguing with government leaders and stakeholders on how best to adapt such models in achieving meaningful outcomes for citizens.


Image courtesy of tigger11th at