European Business Summit talks disaster risk reduction

(l. to r.) Paolo Garonna (FeBaf), Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, UNISDR Director Elizabeth Longworth, Mario Nava (DGMARKT), Councillor Harvey Siggs (COR). (Photo: UNISDR)
 
By Biljana Markova


BRUSSELS, 16 May 2014 – For the first time, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) held a special session on private sector contributions to the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction at the European Business Summit.

UNISDR’s session, "Reducing Risks in post-2015: Contribution of the Private Sector to Building Resilience to Disasters", addressed three themes that are fundamental to the private sector: Business Opportunity, Business Continuity Management, and Access to Risk Information and Resilience Solutions. Specifically, the discussion focused on how to capitalize on and optimize incentives for disaster resilient business practices and identifying investment opportunities.

”There has been a tremendous shift away from disaster response to disaster prevention and resilience,” noted European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis response Kristalina Georgieva. “Europe is finally focused on risk assessment and disaster proofing. Over the next years, we should focus on investment in DRR and resilience by engaging actively the industry roundtables. This will contribute to strong international cooperation with the private sector on disaster risk reduction.”

EU Commission Director of Directorates-General Market and Services, Mario Nava, discussed how Private-Public Partnerships (PPPs) are critical for risk prevention, noting that the European Commission the Green Paper on Insurance of Natural and Man-Made Disasters is a step to the development of PPP policy on insurance of disasters.

“Ninety per cent of disaster damages today stem from extensive recurring events, so the private sector becomes increasingly important,” said UNISDR Director Elizabeth Longworth. “It is four times more profitable to invest in preventing to disasters, than to pay for disasters after they happen. The European Business Summit presents a real opportunity for businesses to shape a global policy agenda, not just for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction, but also for the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals.”

Committee of the Regions (COR) Rapporteur for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction Councillor Harvey Siggs (UK/ECR Group) noted that: “Profit is not a dirty word, particularly if set in the win-win context of disaster resilience.”  He underlined the relevance of disaster loss data collection as a critical area of cooperation between the public and the private sectors under the motto “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.”

Secretary General of the Italian Banking, Insurance and Finance Federation (FeBaf) Paolo Garonna, who moderated the opening session, concluded by stating that long term savings and investment in disaster risk reduction contribute to sustainable economic development, financial stability and employment. “Financial reforms in Europe are targeting the financing requirements of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, water, power plants and transport lifelines, together with those of SMEs” he said. “Better sources of financing and Public-Private Partnerships should significantly improve resilience”.

Discussion sessions followed between the event participants and private sector representatives from Europa Re, Willis Re, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the United Parcel Service (UPS), amongst others. The outcomes of these sessions will contribute to the development of the European business agenda over the next five years, as well as to the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (14-18 March 2015, Sendai, Japan), where an agreement on a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction will be adopted. This framework will guide the collective efforts to build resilient nations and communities to disasters.

The European Business Summit is Europe's key meeting place for business leaders and decision makers. Every year, the EBS attracts more than 1,500 participants from over 60 countries, including: European Commissioners, Prime Ministers, high-ranking individuals and about 200 journalists. The EBS 2014 took place 14-15 May in Brussels, Belgium with the theme "The Business Agenda 2014-2019: Rebuilding a Competitive Europe". The UNISDR session was co-organized by the Italian Banking, Insurance and Finance Federation (FeBaf) and Business Europe.

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