COVID-19 and the World of Work

Supporting private sector resilience in the Pacific

Business continuity planning is critical in times of crisis. For enterprises to survive, they must be able to adapt their operations to the new environment.

Article | 03 June 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from being over, as proven by Fiji, which after almost one year of relaxed restrictions and no community transmission has experienced a surge of virus cases and a new wave of lockdowns since April 2021. Even the coronavirus-free localities, such as some island countries and territories in the Pacific, are still being affected by border closures, disrupted value chains and reduced incomes. Various restrictions, mandatory ‘COVID-safe’ measures and periodic recurrence of infection are likely going to be a part of our lives in months and possibly years ahead. Business continuity planning is critical in times of crisis - and in anticipation of such. For enterprises to survive, they must be able to adapt their operations to the new environment.

Large informal sectors in Pacific Island countries mean entrepreneurs and workers are especially vulnerable, often lacking social protection and capacity to withstand natural disasters and economic shocks. The region has been affected by widespread unemployment and loss of income, closure of businesses, particularly women and youth owned micro enterprises, with more people being pushed into the informal sector. The joint UN Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) has found that in this context it will be of paramount importance to focus on stimulating the economy and employment, supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes.

The UNDP Pacific office is working with the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization (PIPSO) to review the PIPSO Business Continuity Planning (BCP) guidelines. The BCP guidelines were first developed in partnership with the Pacific Community (SPC) in 2017. The revision aims to incorporate appropriate exigency measures and to assist micro entrepreneurs and small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the COVID-19 context, in particular:
• To protect their employees and customers from contracting and passing COVID-19.
• To rapidly take measures that can protect their businesses from the incoming disruptions, especially in countries that have not yet been severely impacted by COVID-19.
• To support those impacted by COVID-19 in accessing all resources that might be available to them to remain operational.

The review will take into account the following:
• The “Six steps for COVID-19 Business Continuity Planning for SMEs” developed by ILO, which include:
1: Identify your key products or services
2: Establish the objective of your BCP
3: Evaluate the potential impact of disruptions to your enterprise and workers
4: List action to protect your business Use the 4Ps framework to do this. Actions to minimize risk to your: People, Processes, Profits and Partnerships (the “4Ps”)
5: Establish contact lists
6: Maintain, review and continuously update your BCP
• Support to National Private Sector Organizations (NPSOs) to tailor BCP guides and templates to country context. NSPOs will be assisted in localizing and communicating the guidelines to national stakeholders.
• Revised guidelines will be easily accessible by small and micro enterprises and can be further edited for training purposes.

To ensure that the guidelines are fit for purpose, the review process will include comprehensive consultations at the regional and country level with stakeholders including national Chambers of Commerce, Employers Federations, SME associations, Women and Youth in Business associations and councils, business development & BCP training providers and other relevant partners.

PIPSO BCP Guide incorporating COVID-19 contingency measures will be available in October 2021 on and will be shared through national organizations and project partners in all PIPSO member countries.

This initiative is part of the Joint UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund project “Informal sector led inclusive economic recovery through sustainable enterprises in Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and Palau” which is led by International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The project targets informal sector enterprises and workers in the creative industries and the agriculture sector, particularly youth, women and persons with disabilities.