The local network of the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies or ARISE - Philippines renewed its support and commitment to creating a risk-resilient society amid the COVID-19 pandemic during its recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) on October .
The first virtual ARISE PH AGM was attended by distinguished guests from the public and private sectors in the Philippines, Geneva, and Bangkok. They were joined by the newly elected ARISE- Philippines board of directors and over 100 CEOs and representatives from ARISE PH member companies. The organization focused on the efforts and initiatives that were done in the global, regional, and Philippine-setting, including the initiatives done by the government and the ARISE - Philippines member companies to help combat COVID-19.
The AGM was opened by a welcome message from Engr. Liza B. Silerio, Vice President of SM Supermalls and Global ARISE Board Member.
Mr. Hans Sy, Chairman of the Executive Committee, SM Prime Holdings Inc. and Co-Chair of ARISE PH, discussed the important role that the private sector plays in espousing disaster risk preparedness. “I always believe that the call for preparedness, prevention, and mitigation is at the forefront of disaster risk reduction. Our role as private sector members is to supplement public sector assistance with our expert knowledge and available resources. In doing our own DRR and forging partnership with the local and national government, we can lift the majority away from hazards of disasters,” Sy said.
In her recorded opening remarks, Mami Mizutori, the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and Permanent Co-chair of ARISE, further zeroed in on the importance of preparedness in a world that is growing more uncertain. She said, It is not enough to learn from the past but we must be able to do a lot of thinking into the future and planning against a variety of interconnected hazards and scenarios. Today, the world is dealing with a virus. Tomorrow, it could be something completely different. Only by bringing everyone together from all segments of the society can this be achieved. And this must include the private sector which is a key stakeholder and can contribute in many ways.”
She added, “ARISE - Philippines is a shining example of an organization whose members take disaster prevention to heart across its free oral exchange of disaster management strategies, education and training, and urban risk reduction and resilience.”
Meanwhile, Timothy Wilcox, Private Sector Focal Point, UNDRR Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP), laid down the plans that the UNDRR has to help the region in response to the pandemic. He said, “There is actually a need to assist small businesses with COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.”
The UNDRR has created tools that are geared towards supporting the MSMEs in the region. These tools include an MSMBE Business Continuity and Recovery Planning Toolkit specific for COVID-19 which has been translated into 11 languages including Filipino and Cebuano; an E-learning Course to supplement the business continuity toolkit; and, a Business Quick Risk Estimate Tool for MSMEs that will assess a bus’ resiliency against risks and disasters at the end of a survey. All of which are accessible and can be downloaded online.
Private-public collaboration is key to a disaster-resilient nation
Defense Secretary and Chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Delfin Lorenzana, who represented the government sector, thanked ARISE – Philippines for their significant contributions in mitigating the COVID-19 crisis and said that the organization has always been a reliable partner in involving the business sector in disaster risk and preparedness.
“The collaboration between public and private institutions is a vital component to efficiently and effectively mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic. The Filipino bayanihan spirit is very much alive and strong in the form of public and private partnership. This is the same strength and commitment we will need as we transition to what is now the new normal,” said Sec. Lorenzana.
Select members of the Board discussed the initiatives that the private sector has implemented to help businesses mitigate the risks of the pandemic. Mr. Rene “Butch” Meily, President of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), talked about the key projects of the PDRF to assist the government in responding to the crisis, especially in providing valuable services to the healthcare workers. For the multi-stakeholder collaboration, Ms. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, President, National Resilience Council, shared public-private capacity-building and resiliency programs amid the COVID-19 pandemic as well as their recovery and response plans targeted to help local government units.
For businesses, Ms. Maribeth L. Marasigan, President and COO of the Aboitiz Foundation, shared the key practices of the Aboitiz Group in business recovery under the new normal. Atty. Alex B. Cabrera, Chairman and Senior Partner of PwC Philippines and Vice-Chair of ARISE - Philippines, showed some of the ways that are crucial to averting risks in the future. These future projects, including net-zero emissions by 2030, plastic neutrality, and recommendations on how to resolve the challenges brought by the informal settlers, are important to focus on in terms of disaster risk reduction.
Organise, synergise, and harmonise
Before the AGM concluded, VAdm Alexander P. Pama AFP (ret), Co-Chair of ARISE – Philippines, summarized the key points discussed in the two-hour meeting. He also mentioned the proposed members mapping that will take the lead in focusing the four priorities of ARISE, namely: Small and Medium-sized Businesses headed by the PDRF, Investors, and Investments headed by the Aboitiz Group of Companies, (Re)-Insurance led by the Philippines Insurers and Reinsurers Association, Inc., and Resilient Infrastructure to be led by the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers Inc (PICE). ARISE PH added another key area which is Special Projects led by PwC.
“We are fully aware that much is needed to be done. Be rest assured however that together, we shall be focused and deliberate in the planning and subsequent executions of our actions. We intend to start by organizing and strengthening our administrative and operational capabilities. Consequent to this, we shall synergize and harmonize the individual and collective strengths and value-added of our members, to relentlessly pursue our mandate and achieve our mission,” Pama concluded.
The Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies, or ARISE, is a global network of private sector entities that work globally to advance the commitments of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. It also promotes business resilience as a central factor for global sustainable development.