To enhance the Philippines’ preparations and capabilities against calamities and natural disasters, partnerships among disaster-risk reduction-centered organizations in the country and abroad is urgent, speakers at an online forum on DRR said.

“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,” said Hans Sy, chairman of executive committee of SM Prime Holdings and co-chairman of Arise-Philippines. Arise stands for Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies.

Sy spoke at the recent webinar titled, “Working Together Beyond Borders: A Webinar in Observance of the International Day for Disaster Risk Resilience.”

The forum was organized by SM Supermalls, in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines and Arise Private Sector. 

The online 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.

Sy said that for this year and relative to this year’s Target F of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (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 toward disaster resilience for our country. This activity today is one of those efforts to achieve this target.”

Retired Vice Admiral Alexander Pama pointed out at the same forum the need for all the help the country can get to be able to overcome the hazards it faces.

“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,” Pama said.

Target F of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction aims to “substantially enhance international cooperation among developing countries through adequate and sustainable support to complement their national actions for the implementation” of the framework by 2030.

 Other experts at the webinar were Jaesang Hwang, country director of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) Philippine Office; Thanh Le, xounsellor for Development at the Australian Embassy in Manila; and Hans Peter Teufers, UPS Foundation‘s director of International Programs and chairman of Arise Global.

The Korean Embassy in the Philippines emphasized its long-term partnership with the country for DRR that it aims to achieve for developing countries.

“[South] Korea and the Philippines have been working closely together to strengthen governance and infrastructure for disaster-risk management at the local and central levels,” the South Korean Embassy said in a news statement. 

It added that South 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 $410 million…[to help] in building stronger resilience and risk mitigation mechanisms in local communities, saving lives impacted by disaster,” the South Korean Embassy said.

Koica Philippines Country Director Jaesang Hwang underscored  South 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. 

Hwang said Koica has been implementing multiple projects with the Philippines Atmospherical and Geophysical Services Administration to develop and upgrade Flood Forecasting and Early Warning (FFEW) systems in five areas covering the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite and Laguna since 2007.

Through these projects the FFEW system accuracy is increased by 80 percent, the time for flood evacuation is lengthened by 60 minutes, and the time required for disaster response work is reduced by 78 percent. 

For his part, Australian Counsellor for Development Than Le urged businesses and communities backed by local government and community-driven approach to be disaster-risk resilient.

He presented the Australian government’s Project SHIELD, or the  Strengthening Institutions and Empowering Localities Against Disasters and Climate Change, wherein the National Resilience Council, a leading Arise Philippines member, is a partner implementor. 

Marco Toscano-Rivalta, chief of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction-Asia and the Pacific, 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 sustainable development goals, and we can make true progress toward a safer and more resilient world,” he said.

 Liza Silerio, vice president for Corporate Compliance at SM Prime and the program director for SM Environment and Sustainability, 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,” said Silerio, who is also an Arise-Global board member.

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