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Promoting Disaster Risk Reduction for Business

Promoting Disaster Risk Reduction for Business

Hardly any business can avoid the losses that occur due to a disaster. Be it a micro-level business or a multinational company, disasters often end up eroding their bottom-line operations or lead to closing down of their businesses, similar to what is happening due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The public sector alone cannot fight against the damages to the economy as a result of a disaster. The private and public sectors shall work together to reduce economic losses and damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of services. Companies that have much to lose, also have much to offer. Sensitizing companies and raising awareness will help in reducing disaster risks and ensure economic resilience during hard times.

Be it climate change, floods, forest fires, or a virus outbreak, businesses can never be immune to these events. Thus, they will have to buckle up for such disasters if they don’t wish to shut down.

Some of the good practices for business in Disaster Risk Reduction are:

  • Promote and develop public-private partnerships and ensure that infrastructure projects do not exacerbate existing or even create new risks.
  •  Leverage sectoral private sector expertise and strengths. Increase the understanding of decision-makers and the general public regarding the importance of the corporate sector and SMEs involvement in DRR.
  • Foster a collaborative exchange and dissemination of data. Build an understanding of the climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction concept among other companies and show them ways of getting engaged.
  • Support national and local risk assessments. Seek more good practice examples of cases where private investment in DRR earns value both in the short and in the longer term.
  • Support the development and strengthening of national and local laws, regulations, policies and programs by channeling business expertise and views into national and local disaster risk reduction frameworks and strategies.

 Along with the above good practices, it is important to raise awareness on various disaster management issues such as:

  • Introduction to the general principles of disaster risk management, the disaster risk management cycle and how disasters impact public and private sectors.
  • Political, social, economic, security and public health consequences due to disasters.
  • Disaster risk assessment/analysis in the business environment.
  • Disaster preparedness and business continuity planning in the private and public sectors.
  • Disaster risk communication and education of the workforce.
  • Security, safety and protection of staff and assets from the effect of disaster.

Every year, around US$ 520 billion is lost globally as a result of disasters. In some of the low-income nations, this value cost can go up to 100% of their GDP. It is generally observed that the brunt of the major disastrous events is borne by the private sectors as much of the economic loss is faced by them. For instance, in the 2011 Thai floods, the private sector bore over 90% of the overall loss which equated to 5% of the country’s GDP.

While some of the big companies are taking disaster risk reduction seriously in order to protect their supply chains and facilities, as well as their workers and communities, other small and medium-sized companies and startups shall also become prepared to cope with future shocks. This can be done by designing some creative ways to engage the thousands of smaller companies that do not think they have the money or need to invest in protecting their businesses and employees.

13 October 2020 is marked as the World Calamity Control Day (UN) or UN International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction. This day is marked to raise the profile of disaster risk reduction. In order to fight against any natural calamity and stay afloat in the market, it is imperative for companies to realize the importance of disaster risk reduction not just for their own sake, but for the society as a whole. 

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