Australian philanthropist Andrew Forrest has agreed to serve as Global Patron of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD).
Mr Forrest, who earlier this year made the largest ever charitable donation by a living Australian, said he applauded the mission of HD to resolve and prevent armed conflict through diplomacy, a goal that overlaps with his personal mission to abolish modern slavery and end disparity through his Minderoo Foundation.
“At Minderoo we focus on human dignity,” said Mr Forrest. “War is one of the main threats to human dignity. Most of the world’s refugees come from war zones; many victims of modern slavery come from war; and war massively exacerbates the suffering of women and marginalized communities.”
As Global Patron, Mr Forrest will support HD’s efforts to prevent, mitigate and resolve armed conflict through mediation, including through his personal engagement with the parties to conflict.
Mr Forrest noted that HD’s focus on measurable results places it at the leading edge of contemporary approaches to global philanthropy, and enhances its capacity to demonstrate to world leaders that conflict affects everyone and resolving conflict remains the responsibility of the entire international community.
“War is a ‘public bad’, and we can measure that,” said Mr Forrest. “We can see the value in prevention, the way private insurers do. We can count the people who are able to get basic vaccinations, even in the worst wars, and tally up the cost to health. We present a stocktake of the deadly weapons removed from circulation when a war is resolved, and count the people who benefit from enhanced security when a conflict ends.”
HD’s Executive Director David Harland welcomed the announcement.
“The first peace agreement HD brokered was in Indonesia, between the Government of Indonesia and Aceh rebels in 2002,” said Mr Harland. “Asia-Pacific is more than ever the fulcrum of both global risk and global opportunity. To have a citizen of the region as our first Global Patron is fantastic.”
Mr Harland added that Mr Forrest would bring a personal credibility that would be critical for HD’s efforts to broker peace agreements. “Andrew Forrest is a businessman who has consecrated his capacities – his private-sector, deal-making capacities – to the public good. We need that when we are dealing with the world’s hardest cases.”