Opportunities for Businesses in Building Community Preparedness for Disasters

Businesses can help meet crucial community needs and address business objectives through strategic engagement in disaster preparedness efforts. Important modes of engagement include skills-based volunteering, leveraging business assets and networks, supporting the adoption of new technologies and innovative solutions, and helping to advance advocacy efforts, according to a CSR Asia White Paper on Disaster Preparedness.

Jakarta, 21 November 2013 – The devastating impact of disasters in the Asia Pacific region, especially with the recent typhoon Haiyan, has re-ignited the discussion around how communities can be better prepared for disasters to reduce human and economic loss. Post-disaster, businesses often make significant contributions to immediate response and relief efforts. However, there is an important role businesses can play in helping build stronger communities before disasters happen.

According to a ground-breaking White Paper commissioned by the Prudence Foundation, the charitable arm of Prudential, long-term business engagement in disaster preparedness not only helps reduce loss of lives from future disasters but also supports business objectives. The White Paper, “Business and Disaster Preparedness: Helping Communities Prepare for Effective Response”, produced by non-profit organisation, CSR Asia, was released today at the inaugural forum on Disaster Preparedness in Jakarta. This first annual forum aims to support businesses in helping communities prepare for disasters and to bring together key leaders in the business, humanitarian, and government sector to explore and discuss opportunities for cooperation.

“In the aftermath of large-scale disasters, businesses are ready to provide much needed support including funding and in-kind donations. But there is a much greater need to help communities living in disaster-prone areas to be better prepared to deal with future disasters. This will reduce damages, losses and costs of relief efforts,” said Richard Welford, CSR Asia Chairman. “The White Paper outlines ways through which businesses can help build preparedness of vulnerable communities in partnership with governments and humanitarian organisations.”

Engaging in partnerships for community preparedness can support business objectives

The strategic engagement of businesses in building community capacity for effective response holds the potential for supporting business objectives. These can include protecting the business, building an enhanced reputation, strengthening relationships with stakeholders, increasing staff motivation and retention and creating new business opportunities.

“Many businesses are very much part of the community in which they operate and where that community is prone to disasters, then building community preparedness is simply good business sense. It can demonstrate an active participation in the community and position the company as an organisation that invests in community needs. This is likely to reduce potential community conflicts and create loyalty amongst local staff and customers,” said Richard Welford.

Collaborative efforts ensure corporate contributions are put to best use

Donald Kanak, Chairman of Prudential Corporation Asia, and a Trustee of the Prudence Foundation said, “Disaster Preparedness is a key pillar of the Prudence Foundation. Prudential has a strong long-term commitment to the health, safety and prosperity of the communities in which we operate. While we continue to contribute to disaster relief efforts as they occur, we believe it is equally important to focus on prevention and preparedness. Communities, businesses, governments and humanitarian organisations all have an important role to play in successful disaster preparedness initiatives. We hope that this White Paper can stimulate discussion and engage more businesses to help communities reduce their human and economic losses when faced with disasters.”

The report points out four modes of engagement that allow businesses to get more strategically involved: skills-based volunteering, leveraging business assets and networks, supporting the adoption of new technologies and innovative solutions, and helping to advance advocacy efforts. It is through such strategic long-term engagements that companies can align business goals and competencies with the needs of communities.

To view the White Paper, please visit:
www.csr-asia.com/report/CSRA2013_Business_and_Disaster_Preparedness.pdf

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