Sunday, November 9, 2014
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said that public-private partnerships (PPPs), which have been usually favored for basic services and infrastructure, could very well help fuel the country’s disaster risk reduction (DRR) thrusts.
Speaking at the Top Leaders Forum 2014, which was organized by SM Prime and the United Nations Office For Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Legarda explained how PPPs could be instrumental in DRR and in building sustainable and resilient communities.
“Disasters as an enemy are becoming more enigmatic and formidable. It is no longer business as usual. The shift from reactive to proactive stance is now a must. In light of the call to ‘build back better’, the government would greatly need support from the business sector. We need better investments in flood control, forest management, hazard identification, mapping and assessment, research and development, and risk financing,” said Legarda, UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.
The Senator noted that in September of this year, Secretary Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) announced that “increased public spending will be supplemented by private sector investments through PPP.” Php553 billion worth of infrastructure projects are expected to be rolled out in the next 12 months.
Furthermore, the Aquino administration has awarded eight PPP infrastructure projects worth Php127.5 billion since four years ago.
“DRR is a relatively new area for PPPs, as traditionally, private sector involvement in disaster management has focused largely on response and relief. But businesses have the potential to bring in core competencies for shaping innovative and sustainable solutions and therefore play a vital role in building resilience,” Legarda stressed.
Legarda said that the Philippine government has actually been engaging the private sector in its DRR and CCA initiatives.
The government’s Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards or Project NOAH, a program that uses science and technology in building capacities for disaster risk reduction and management, was created with the support of several private business entities, particularly information communications technology and telecommunications companies.
This year, the Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act was enacted into law, through which the services of telecommunications companies (telcos) may be tapped by government in sending out disaster alerts and other relevant information to mobile phone subscribers located near and within areas that would be affected by an impending natural hazard.
Legarda said that telcos must also carry flood and storm surge warnings from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), as well as updates on forced evacuation targeted in communities.
“The private sector is a key partner in DRR. They supply the wherewithal, including the technical expertise, to ensure that development is pursued strategically at the outset,” Legarda said.
“It is also vital that the private sector should put disaster resilience at the core of their business strategies and put in place a business continuity plan to allow them to get their systems back in order immediately after a disaster without substantial disruption and income loss,” she added.
“I call for a cultural revolution, for humanity to adapt to a fast changing environment and to adopt a risk-informed lifestyle. This should apply in all aspects of daily life and even for business—in designing a product, in building a structure, and in planning development programs or projects. This cultural transformation for a safer world entails a new way of thinking and doing our everyday business that prevents socio-economic losses and ensures genuine human development,” Legarda concluded.
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