By Andy McElroy
MANILA, 9 November 2016 – Exactly three years after the country was lashed by the deadly Typhoon Haiyan, UNISDR’s Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) network in the Philippines yesterday committed to strengthen partnerships with national and local authorities, academia and civil society as part of its ambition to reduce disaster risk in the hazard-prone country.
The six-point commitment statement included pledges to: prioritize risk-sensitive investment and action through the adoption of new standards for infrastructure, buildings and industrial and business practices; mobilize more trans-disciplinary research and collaboration on disaster risk reduction to harness the power of applied science; and mainstream science into local risk governance.
Three years on from Typhoon Haiyan, a disaster known locally as Yolanda that claimed more than 6,000 lives, more than 400 government officials, business executives, and various representatives convened for ARISE’s 5th Top Leaders Forum. The theme was ‘Investing in Resilience: Leveraging Science for Sustainable Development’.
Mr. Hans Sy, the Executive Committee Chairman of Asian mall giant SM Prime, who is also an international ARISE board member, opened the forum by saying an evolution in national and international level cooperation had resulted in many changes “and the creation of ARISE Philippines is one of them”.
“Through this initiative, we have fostered deeper connections with other private sector companies and assisted in strengthening the relationship between the public and private sector for DRR,” Mr. Sy told participants at the SMX Convention Centre, in Manila.
“SM Prime’s own commitment is to build disaster-resilient malls, taking the community into consideration, and ensuring sustainability for its partners and stakeholders. Simply, we recognize the responsibility that is put upon us as an integrated property developer, a nation builder and an influencer within the private sector.”
Ms. Sandra Wu, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Japan-based Kokusai Kogyo, who is likewise an international ARISE board member as well as the network’s focal point for Japan and Asia, said: “ARISE is unique because we are a group of companies that approach disasters from a developmental, not just humanitarian, angle. We identify where we can invest towards a safer society, and at the same time grow our business, instead of focusing on assisting in the aftermath of disaster events.”
Philippines Senator Loren Legarda, who is also a long-term UNISDR Champion for disaster risk reduction, said science that translated into useful and usable knowledge presented a huge opportunity for the private sector.
“This forum should focus less on understanding the role of science and technology in building more resilient communities and businesses. We all know that by now. The bigger question should be: ‘What is stopping us from using science and technology in our bid to build more resilient communities and businesses?” she said.
“With high reliability of disaster data, the private sector will also be better equipped to carry out its role in disaster risk planning, preparedness and response, and will be more confident to enter into risk financing schemes without fear of massive losses.”
“Governments and businesses cannot just be enablers of research. They cannot just be facilitators for knowledge creation. They need to be users of the knowledge that science and technology creates.”
In a video address to the forum, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, praised the Philippines’ ARISE network as a global example of business collaborating to provide a significant contribution to strengthening disaster resilience.
“The ARISE network in the Philippines deserves huge commendation for its remarkable role in raising awareness of the importance of the role of the private sector in disaster resilience and reducing disaster risk,” Mr. Glasser said.
UNISDR’s ARISE was established a year ago to energize the private sector in collaboration with the public sector and other stakeholders to achieve the aims of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year agreement adopted by the international community in 2015. It is world’s most ambitious plan yet to reduce disaster risk and losses.
ARISE has seven themes, namely: disaster risk management strategies; insurance; investment metrics; benchmarking and standards; education and training; legal and regulatory; and urban risk and resilience.
There are currently two national networks in Asia: Philippines and Japan. There are moves to establish similar groups in Mongolia and India.
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