UNISDR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) members in Japan pose for a photo with UNISDR’s head, Mr. Robert Glasser (Photo: UNISDR)
By Yuki Matsuoka
TOKYO, 25 March 2016 – The role of the private sector in making societies resilient to disasters and ensuring development is sustainable has been spotlighted as part of events commemorating the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
A forum organized by the Japan arm of the UNISDR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies showcased the diversity of corporate approaches towards resilience and sustainability to participants from the business sector, academia and civil society.
“I am here to demonstrate UNISDR’s commitment to engage the private sector for the implementation of the Sendai Framework. We must communicate to businesses that assessing disaster risk and acting on disaster risk reduction is a business investment, not a cost,” UNISDR’s head, Mr. Robert Glasser, told the forum.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year global blueprint adopted in March last year, focuses strongly on ensuring action by governments, local authorities and a range of players in communities. The latter include businesses, whose resilience is critical when it comes to limiting the impact of hazards, whether they provide small-scale employment or are multinationals whose disrupted supply chains can cause global havoc.
Global economic losses in disasters are expected to increase from US$260 billion in 2015 to US$414 billion by 2030. Trillions of dollars of new private investment across all sectors are expected to pour into hazard-prone areas by 2030, dramatically increasing the value of assets at risk. How disaster risk is factored into, and managed in, capital investments, supply chains and operations in general will have a decisive influence on whether risk can be reduced and the targets of the Sendai Framework achieved.
The Sendai Framework interlinks with the Sustainable Development Goals, also adopted by the international community in 2015.
“The nature of the work going forward, be it the Sendai Framework or the Sustainable Development Goals, require us to meet the challenges with all hands on deck, and with a long-term perspective,” said ARISE board member Ms. Sandra Wu, of Kokusai Kogyo Co., Ltd.
“Understanding this is not only important for meeting the goals of the UN agendas, but also for businesses to maintain and maximize their lead,” she told forum participants, encouraging them to join ARISE, which was founded last November.
The highlight of the Japan forum saw specialists from six ARISE member companies present projects that contribute to disaster risk reduction and resilience.
Panelists addressed environmental degradation and agriculture, with Japan Conservation Engineers & Co., Ltd. detailing technology for the desalinization of coastal disaster areas that can also be used to improve farm yields. Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc. explained weather index-based insurance for farmers, while counterpart Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. highlighted employee education that more than offset the entire corporate carbon footprint.
Other companies spotlighted how to harness technology to understand and deliver risk information, with Nikken Sekkei Ltd. addressing the use of big data to model how commuters get stranded in megacities. NEC Corporation set out ways to deliver reliable information to end users via diverse media, while Kokusai Kogyo Co., Ltd. explained methods for adding real-time damage predictions and efficient information sharing functions to internal local government systems.
“Like the integrated indivisibility of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, the efforts of companies to address specific issues and goals start them on a path to address even more issues related to disaster risk reduction and resilience,” said moderator Mr. Shigeki Honda of InterRisk Research Institute & Consulting, Inc.