SM Supermalls, in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines and ARISE Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies—Philippines, hosted a webinar last October 13 on disaster risk reduction (DRR) in celebration of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Titled “Working Together Beyond Borders: A Webinar in Observance of the International Day for Disaster Risk Resilience,” the virtual event focused on the critical role that cross-border partnerships play in DRR strategies and initiatives, featuring key representatives from various organizations in the public and private sectors.
During the event, distinguished speakers and experts led the discussions about the various efforts of their respective organizations in promoting DRR in the Philippines and beyond through partnerships: Country Director of the Philippine Office of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Jaesang Hwang; Counsellor for Development at the Australian Embassy in Manila Thanh Le; and UPS Foundation’s Director of International Programs and Chair of ARISE Global Hans Peter Teufers.
In their opening messages, SM Prime Holdings Chairman of the Executive Committee and ARISE-Philippines Co-chair Hans Sy, and ARISE-Philippines Co-chair VADm. Alexander Pama each underscored the importance of partnering with DRR-relevant organizations within and outside the country, in order to enable more impactful DRR efforts that will benefit Filipinos in the long term.
This is in line with Target F of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), which aims to “substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for implementation” of the framework by 2030.
“Over the past six years, ARISE-Philippines has continuously undertaken programs and activities in line with its mandate to energize the private sector to advance the agenda for a disaster resilient Philippines,” Sy said. “For this year, however, and relative to this year’s Target F of the SFDRR, we have started to reach out to international organizations and other governments represented here in the Philippines to pursue a more wide-ranging network of partners to reach our common objective towards disaster resilience for our country. This activity today is one of those efforts to achieve this target.”
“As a developing country that is extremely vulnerable to multiple hazards, we need all the help that we can get even as we’re hopeful and excited to engage in partnerships, particularly with possible partners from outside the Philippines,” VAdm. Pama said.
The Korean Embassy in the Philippines emphasized its long-term partnership with the Philippines for DRR, which is a great example of the kind of partnerships that Target F of the SFDRR aims to achieve for developing countries.
“Korea and the Philippines have been working closely together to strengthen governance and infrastructure for disaster risk management at the local and central levels. Korea has also been working together with the Philippine government to enhance disaster preparedness for effective response to disasters. To attain this goal, Korea has contributed USD 410 million to date. This contribution has helped in building stronger resilience and risk mitigation mechanisms in local communities, saving lives impacted by disaster,” the Korean Embassy said.
KOICA Philippines Country Director Jaesang Hwang highlighted Korea’s commitment to enhancing the Philippine’s preparedness for effective response to disasters and contributing to promoting partnership among various stakeholders from the government, civil society, private business and international organizations for disaster risk reduction.
KOICA has been implementing multiple projects with PAGASA to develop and upgrade Flood Forecasting and Early Warning (FFEW) systems in 5 areas covering NCR, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna since 2007. Through these projects, the FFEW system accuracy is increased by 80%, the time for flood evacuation is lengthened by 60 minutes, and the time required for disaster response work is reduced by 78%.
Australian Embassy in Manila’s Counsellor for Development, Than Le, encouraged businesses and communities to move away from having a reactive response to disasters, and instead adopt a proactive, local government and community-driven approach to disaster risk resilience. He also presented the Australian Government’s Project SHIELD (Strengthening Institutions and Empowering Localities Against Disasters and Climate Change), wherein the National Resilience Council, a leading ARISE Philippines member, is a partner implementor.
In his closing speech, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction—Asia and the Pacific Chief Marco Toscano-Rivalta called upon businesses to join the movement in creating a more disaster resilient region. “We encourage businesses in the region to take the opportunity of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction to work together beyond borders. Only then can we address the range of risks that threaten economic growth and the achievement of the SDGs, and we can make true progress toward a safer and more resilient world.”
Vice President for Corporate Compliance at SM Prime, Program Director for SM Environment and Sustainability, ARISE-Global Board Member Engr. Liza Silerio urged stakeholders to join the global DRR movement, as “each and every one of us plays an important role in addressing disasters and climate change impacts,” she said.
“Climate change is happening and is expected to worsen, so we have to act collectively. More importantly, we need to further harmonize on initiatives by governments, the private sector, and the international cooperation, and complement existing action plans to achieve a disaster-resilient society,” Silerio concluded.
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