Business calls for resilient investments to curb disaster losses

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
Mr. Craig Fugate (centre), Administrator of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, with ARISE board members Ms. Sandra Wu of Kokusai Kogyo and Mr. Hans Sy of SM Prime, during this week's meeting (Photo: UNISDR)
Mr. Craig Fugate (centre), Administrator of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency, with ARISE board members Ms. Sandra Wu of Kokusai Kogyo and Mr. Hans Sy of SM Prime, during this week's meeting (Photo: UNISDR)

WASHINGTON, D.C., 7 October 2016 – The UNISDR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilience Societies has called for risks posed by natural and man-made hazards to be put front and centre in investment choices, in order to curb disaster-related economic damage around the globe.

With climate change stoking a rise in the frequency and intensity of weather hazards such as Hurricane Matthew, the challenge is steep, underlined participants in the annual meeting of the alliance, which is known for short as ARISE.

The past 10 years have also been marked by record-breaking climate temperatures and rainfall, and global disaster-related losses have surged beyond US$1.3 trillion.

Understanding future trends and acting to rein in the economic image is critical, all the more so is development is to be sustainable, as pledged by the international community.

“The scale of these losses needs to be known.  The majority of infrastructure investments needed to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 are yet to be built,” Mr. Oz Ozturk, co-chair of ARISE and a partner at PwC, told the meeting, which was hosted on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Washington, D.C., offices of IBM.

“As owners of 80 percent of all investments, it is important to scale up the work of the private sector to build resilience and reduce disaster risk,” he said.

The gathering of more than 100 private sector representatives from the construction, insurance, retail, tourism, consulting and technology industries reviewed ongoing projects to build resilience and identify gaps to reach the global goals set out in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Sendai Framework, a 15-year plan to curb disaster deaths, the number of affected people and the scale of economic losses, was adopted by the international community in March 2015.

The Sendai Framework was the first in a series of international accords approved in 2015 which are setting out the route for global development over the coming years. It is linked tightly to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

ARISE was created formally in November 2015, folding together existing UNISDR work with the private sector.

It works in a range of areas, for example by seeking to engrave disaster risk awareness and reduction into company operations via business education and working with local governments. ARISE projects funded and supported by the Walmart Foundation and the Government of Germany have engaged over 500 businesses, 15 universities, 1,500 students, and a host of cities over the last year. 

The Economist Intelligence Unit, which is also part of the ARISE network, announced at the annual meeting that it has completed a new metrics tool to measure how well countries are building resilience.

With Hurricane Matthew battering Haiti during the meeting and bearing down on the United States, the ARISE meeting also heard from Mr. Craig Fugate, Administrator of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

He underlined that in construction patterns “efficiency does not necessarily build resilience”.  He highlighted the need to find mutual areas where the private and public sectors can work together to reduce risks and build resilience.

“We are extremely pleased with the collaboration, ideas, and networking opportunities for the members in ARISE who are all pulling together to implement the Sendai Framework and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Ms. Kirsi Madi, Director of UNISDR, who co-chaired the meeting. 

“Reducing disaster risk is a prerequisite to achieve sustainable development, and private sector has a critical role in risk reduction,” she added.

ARISE members also elected a new board member, Mr. Masato Takamatsu, Managing Director and Chief Consultant for  Tourism Crisis Management at JTB Tourism Research & Consulting Co. (Japan).

ARISE's board also comprises Mr. Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of UNISDR, who chairs ARISE along with Mr. Ozturk; vice-chair Mr. Carlo Papa of Italian utilities group ENEL; Mr. Mark Cooper of US retail giant Walmart; Mr. Philippe Derieux of French-based insurer AXA Group; Mr. Eduardo Martinez of the UPS Foundation; Mr. Graeme Newton of consultancy Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd.; Mr. Aris Papadopoulos, former chief of construction materials group Titan America; Mr. Hans Sy of Philippines shopping mall group SM Prime; Mr. Peter Williams of IBM; and Ms. Sandra Wu of Japan-based Kokusai Kogyo.

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