November 2015

PH leads in private sector resiliency alliance in Southeast Asia

Facing real and catastrophic effects of climate change and taking on the lessons of super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), the Philippines today led efforts to take positive action to make businesses and communities disaster-resilient through the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE), a worldwide initiative spearheaded by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) to create more resilient societies.

Pledging concrete action to be taken to make the private sector disaster resilient, Philippine business across all sectors welcomed ARISE during the 2015 Top Leaders Forum at the SMX Mall of Asia in Pasay City. It was the first time ARISE was introduced in Southeast Asia.

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In attendance during the pledge to action were UNISDR Ms. Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction together with Sandra Wu, Chairman of the UNISDR – Private Sector Partners and Hans Sy, President of SM Prime, during the Top Leaders Forum 2015 at the SMX Function Hall of the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

ARISE, which was launched in London last November 5, was created in order to implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year global roadmap adopted in March 2015 which aims to curb disaster mortality and economic losses substantially. The Framework notes the importance of an inclusive approach to preventing and reducing risk and the roles of public and private stakeholders alike which includes the need to address the lack of regulation and incentives for private disaster risk reduction investment as well as integrate disaster risk into their management practices.

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Similarly, it states that addressing the underlying disaster risk factors through disaster risk informed public and private investments are more cost- effective than primary reliance on post-disaster response and recovery, and contribute to sustainable development.

Wahlström also announced that Sy, the only Filipino member of the UNISDR Private Sector Partners, is a member of the Board of Directors of ARISE.

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SM Prime has been hosting the Top Leaders Forum for the past several years which gathers the country’s CEOs and top managers from the Philippines and the Asian region. The event offers a distinctive platform where they discuss the challenges, opportunities and solutions to disaster management.

Wahlström explained that with the economic losses from disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones and flooding now averaging US$250 billion to US$300 billion globally each year, there is a need for positive action and coordination to guard businesses against these calamities.

Wahlström has consistently highlighted the indispensable role of the private sector in disaster resiliency saying the government cannot do it alone.

“After Sendai, our entire private partnership cooperation community said we want to re-launch ourselves and this is what we want to introduce to you. This is a sense of mobilization of the practices we were doing for the past four to five years and we are going to present to you a model that will be inclusive and that will mobilize the private sector nationally and locally,” she stressed.

Sy said the ARISE is a big step towards taking positive action to guard not only investments but protect lives in times of disasters.

Hans Sy 1

“The Philippines suffered so much from super typhoon Haiyan and we are still trying to recover from its effects. However, we have learned some painful but valuable lessons and we hope that through this initiative, we will be able to make this world a better and safer place for all of us and the future generations,” Sy said.

The Philippine leadership of ARISE is an important component of the initiative since the Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. And with the continuous capital flow in the country, including hazard-prone areas, there is need to address the risks to guard economic assets.