The Director of Da Nang Climate Change Coordination Office Dr Dinh Quang Cuong explains the city’s significant flood risk (Photo: UNISDR)
By Andy McElroy
DA NANG, 18 June 2015 – The Sendai Framework identifies partnership with the private sector as a vital element in global efforts to reduce disaster risk. This strategic and inclusive approach is already a reality in hazard-prone Da Nang, on Viet Nam’s Central Coast.
Over the past four years, the local authorities have put public-private sector cooperation at the heart of their efforts to strengthen the resilience of the port city of one million people.
Da Nang is hemmed in by mountains on one side and faces the sea on the other. The city, which has the highest rate of urbanisation in Viet Nam, regularly experiences typhoons, floods and, increasingly, heatwaves.
The Director of Da Nang Climate Change Coordination Office Dr. Dinh Quang Cuong said a more resilient business sector was good news for the city’s diversified economy, which includes aquaculture, marine fishing, construction, machinery, steel, rubber, electrics, chemicals, shipbuilding, textiles, tourism and services.
“The whole city benefits when jobs and businesses are better protected, particularly in an era of increasing competition, both nationally and internationally,” Dr. Cuong said.
“The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction is correct to highlight the importance of the private sector in the efforts of cities to strengthen their resilience. This is certainly the experience we have had here in Da Nang over recent years.
“Our business sector – even smaller and medium enterprises – is very aware of disaster risk because they directly experience it most years. They are doing impressive things particularly in terms of preparedness. Having said, we need to expand the focus from business continuity to planning that manages disaster and climate risk.”
The Da Nang Climate Change Coordination Office, with the support of UNISDR, convened a ‘Make Your Business Disaster and Climate Resilient’ forum for more than 30 senior representatives from the private sector.
Various captains of local industry – including CEOs, Deputy CEOs, Chief Engineers, and Financial Controllers – affirmed that disaster and climate risk is a genuine threat to their businesses in the face of more unpredictable and intense hazard trends.
They agreed that strengthening their disaster and climate risk management increasingly represented an investment in business competitiveness and sustainability rather than a cost.
The Da Nang Steel Joint Stock Company, which employees 310 workers and produces 100,000 tonnes of steel a year, is typical of local enterprises in believing that investment to protect their business is paying off.
Typhoon Xangsane, which made landfall in September 2006, was the strongest storm in 40 years to lash Da Nang. The Steel Company was closed for seven days as a result and the whole economy was hit hard. Da Nang lost the equivalent of 50% of its GDP for the previous year. In total USD 300 million of direct economic losses were sustained, with roads, telecommunications and power supplies all affected. Thirty people were killed in the city.
The experience of Xangsane prompted Da Nang Steel to refit its infrastructure – including various production facilities, warehouses and offices – to withstand storms of a similar strength in future.
“Such work represents a longer term investment in a longer term solution,” the company’s Deputy Director Mr. Pham Quy Giap said. “We also now have better contingencies with more supplies and back-up systems.”
UNISDR will continue its partnership with Da Nang City. The Climate Change Coordination Office has requested UNISDR’s Global Education and Training Institute (GETI), based in Incheon, to support local officials from the Climate Change Office and other related city development departments in working with local business to build their disaster resilience. Related training material is now available in the Vietnamese language.
The new Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was adopted at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, in Japan, in March. More than 350 representatives from the private sector attended.