United Nations urges Philippines businesses to take business continuity planning seriously
UNISDR (United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) has joined forces with a leading regional university to urge businesses in the Philippines, and especially in the country’s capital city, Manila, to develop business continuity plans. Manila is extremely exposed to earthquakes and typhoons and disasters cost the country a record $615 million last year.
“Adopting business continuity plans is not a question of choice but a double imperative for the Philippines as earthquake and typhoon risks are very high and seriously threaten business assets and profits”, Margareta Wahlström, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction told more than 100 participants at a roundtable on business continuity planning (BCP) held in Ateneo Graduate School of Business in Manila.
“Corporations need to start thinking about what they can do to better protect their businesses against disasters as they are already paying a very high cost for not doing so,” warned Wahlström.
“The private sector plays an instrumental role in mitigating the collective risks we face as people”, said Father Jett Villarin, president of the Ateneo De Manila University, “and BCP should be also taught in business schools to sustain the dialogue and practice among business entities.”
Manila, which accounts for more than 33 per cent of the GDP in the Philippines, has been hit by 30 earthquakes since 1900. The Valley Fault System that runs north to south along the west and east edges of the Marikina Valley is thought to pose the greatest seismic threat to Metro Manila due to its close proximity.
Manila and the Philippines also suffer from more than 30 typhoons per year.
“In addition to these first hand risks, the Philippines is also exposed to other threats due to the interconnectedness of today’s disasters. A disaster happening in Japan or somewhere else in Asia can have also great repercussions in the Philippines affecting different manufacturing activities and employment sectors,” noted Wahlström.
The Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, for example, resulted in a 10-25 percent decrease in the automobile production with a domino effect of a 10-20 percent reduction in the manufacturing of electrical components in the Philippines.
“Yet despite the magnitude of potential costs and loss of incomes, reducing disaster risk continues to be perceived as a lesser priority than fiscal stability, unemployment or inflation when it should be a priority as disasters continue to increase and inflict huge economic losses to businesses,” said the UN head for Disaster Risk reduction.
Senator Loren Legarda who is a UNISDR Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Champion took the opportunity of the visit by Wahlström to convene a high-level meeting of business leaders to convince them that robust business continuity planning was part of their corporate social responsibility. Those business leaders included Rhicke Jennings, president of the American Chamber of Commerce, Henry Limbonliong, vice-president of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and M. Hans Sy of SM Prime Holdings.
•Date: 8th May 2012 • Philippines •Type: Article • Topic: BC general