UN calls on businesses to reduce disaster risk

May 30, 2013

The UN today called on Viet Nam’s public and private sectors to have a thorough disaster risk assessment as part of their decision making on investments.

UNDP Deputy Country Director in Viet Nam, Bakhodir Burkhanov, said: “Investment decisions are not always made with sufficient attention to hazard exposure. Governments are working on effective disaster response and preparedness strategies, and businesses can do more to anticipate risks and to disclose them to regulators and investors.”

The UNDP Deputy Country Director was introducing the 2013 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR13) at a meeting in Ha Noi today to discuss the policy implications for Viet Nam of the new report.

GAR13: Creating Shared Value: the Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction GAR 2013 is the wake-up call for no longer “business as usual” by both public and private sector in making investment decisions.

According to the report, direct losses from floods, earthquakes and drought have been under-estimated by at least 50%.The report warns the world’s business community that economic losses linked to disasters are “out of control” and will continue to escalate unless disaster risk management becomes a core part of business investment strategies.

GAR 13 highlights how the transformation of the global economy over the last 40 years has led to rapid increases in disaster risk in low, medium and high income countries. The report analyses three key global investment sectors – urban development, agribusiness, and coastal tourism – and reveals that prevailing business models in each sector continue to drive disaster risk.

GAR2013 surveys 1,300 small and medium-sized businesses in disaster-prone cities in the Americas and finds that three-quarters have suffered business disruptions related to damaged or destroyed power, telecommunications and water utilities demonstrating the inter-dependence between the private and public sectors when it comes to disaster risk management. Yet only 14.2 percent of companies with fewer than 100 employees had even a basic approach to crisis management in the form of business continuity planning.

“The report stresses that the capacity to manage and reduce disasters is becoming more important than ever. It will define the competitiveness, resilience and sustainability of businesses, cities and countries,” said Bakhodir Burkhanov. “It also underlines the importance of risk governance, including legislation, institutional set-up, and integration of disaster risk reduction into socio-economic development policies.”

He commended Viet Nam’s draft Law on Disaster Risk Management for emphasizing on risk assessment. “The challenge is to ensure the availability of risk information that is accessible publicly and utilized for generating comprehensive risk reduction measures, beyond business continuity plan,” he noted and called for wider ownership of disaster risk management in Viet Nam across public and private sector stakeholders following the principles of shared risks and shared values.

The UNDP Country Director is echoed by Nguyen Xuan Dieu, Standing member of the Viet Nam’s Central Committee for Food and Storm Control. “The latest 5-year review of disaster risk reduction work shows that people loss reduced by 8% compared to that of the previous 5-year period but economic loss tended to increase. This is partly due to insufficient attention of businesses to disaster risk reduction work.”

Nguyen Xuan Dieu praised GAR13 for providing important information and assessment for national policy makers. “Experiences and lessons learnt from developing countries and disaster affected countries are very useful for Viet Nam,” he said.

GAR13 is the third biennial report coordinated by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). The report is built on the reviews of national disaster loss data bases in 40 countries, survey responses from 1,300 SMEs in disaster-prone locations in Americas, and a review of risk management in 14 major corporations.

The Mission of the United Nations in Viet Nam

The United Nations, in partnership with the government and people of Viet Nam, works to ensure that all Vietnamese people enjoy an increasingly healthy and prosperous life with greater human dignity and expanded choices. Collectively and through its individual agencies, the United Nations cares and creates opportunities for the poor and most vulnerable, and for youth, to whom the future belongs.

In accordance with the United Nations Charter and Millennium Declaration, the United Nations advances the principles of equality and social justice, while providing impartial advice, technical expertise, access to global knowledge and local experience to meet Viet Nam's development challenges.

Contact information

Bui Viet Hien, phone: 0439421495, email: bui.viet.hien@undp.org
Nguyen Viet Lan, phone: 0438224383, email: nguyen.viet.lan@undp.org