Business engagement and cross sector collaboration at Disaster Preparedness Forum 2017

CSR Asia and Prudence Foundation gather experts to address the need for disaster resilient homes and schools across Asia

Bangkok, 28 March, 2017 – Organised by CSR Asia and Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia, the fourth Disaster Preparedness Forum was hosted in Bangkok. With an opening speech extended by Mr. Kobchai Boonyaorana, Deputy Director General, Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Ministry of Interior, Royal Thai Government the conference addressed the need for disaster resilient settlements throughout Asia. It drew an attendance of close to 150 representatives from the government, business and civil society sectors from across the Asia Pacific region.

With the theme “Build Better Now”, the conference called for greater multi-sectoral collaboration and pre-disaster funding to significantly reduce the effects of disaster induced losses – covering physical damages, economic losses and most importantly, lives lost.

Asia and the Pacific is the most disaster-prone region worldwide. Year after year, this region sees casualties and long-term impacts on livelihoods caused by poorly-constructed buildings unable to withstand the forces of earthquakes, floods or storms. People are buried in collapsed structures or forced to live in temporary shelters for months or years after a disaster.

As the Forum took place, reconstruction efforts were under way in parts of Thailand and the Philippines. In the Philippines, well over 4,000 houses were damaged and large parts of the population displaced due to floods and landslides in late January and a 6.7 magnitude earthquake in early February. Reconstruction efforts were also under way in the south of Thailand where widespread flooding across 11 provinces in late 2016 and early 2017 caused damages to 2,336 schools.

The Forum drew on important lessons learned from reconstruction efforts after large-scale disasters such as Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes which destroyed more than half a million buildings and led to close to 9,000 casualties. Speakers at the Forum emphasised the need for buildings, especially homes, schools and other vital community facilities to be built in accordance with appropriate building standards and at affordable costs for the region’s most vulnerable communities – including the urban poor, informal settlers, and remote villages.

Expert speakers included: Donald Kanak, Chairman, Prudence Foundation and Chairman, EU-ASEAN Business Council; Vivek Pathak, Director East Asia & the Pacific, International Finance Corporation; Kirsten McDonald, Associate Principal, Arup International Development; Thomas Kessler, Head of Southeast Asia and East Asia and Director, Global Partnerships, Swiss Re; and Mariko Sato, Chief, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Bangkok.

“The most effective way to deal with increasing risks from natural hazards in Asia is to guide more resources into building preparedness and resilience. Businesses in the region have made significant contributions to disaster relief and recovery efforts, through direct business activities as well as through their community programmes. But with the region’s high susceptibility to floods, typhoons and earthquakes there is an urgent need to help communities better withstand future impacts. The Forum aims to inform business engagement in disaster related programmes and drive cross- sectoral collaborations that build the capacities to prevent future damages, losses and most importantly casualties caused by disasters.” says Richard Welford, Founder and Chairman of CSR Asia.

“As a leading life insurer and asset manager in Asia, Prudential provides long-term protection and security for families and communities. In line with this, a key area of focus for Prudence Foundation is disaster preparedness, and we believe in building a culture of prevention and disaster resilience within our communities. We hope the Disaster Preparedness Forum, now in its fourth year, will continue to foster richer private-public dialogue and strategic collaboration so that communities will be disaster-ready and more lives will be protected,” says Marc Fancy, Executive Director of Prudence Foundation.

 

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