Opening remarks at the introduction to the Disaster Risk Report

30 May 2013

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Speaker: Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP Deputy Country Director
Date
:      Ha Noi, 30 May 2013
Event:     Introduction to the Disaster Risk Report (GAR13)

Dr. Nguyen Xuan Dieu, Deputy Director General, Water Resources Directorate, MARD;
Dr. Jerry Velasquez, Regional Coordinator, UNISDR Asia Pacific;
Members of the Central Committee for Floods and Storm Control and representatives from other government agencies;
Development partner colleagues;
Ladies and gentlemen:

Let me start by welcoming you to this introduction of the 2013 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction co-organized with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. I would like to congratulate UNISDR for producing a comprehensive global report on disaster risk reduction.

The report focuses on the business case of disaster risk reduction, a topic that had not been well researched before. It provides compelling analysis and findings, which will be presented to you shortly. Three key findings are particularly relevant to Viet Nam.

Firstly, disasters are costlier than we thought. The report highlights that direct disaster loss over the last three decades was at least 50% higher than what was internationally estimated. This excludes indirect losses and wider negative effects of disasters. There are people and businesses behind figures on disaster damage. A significant part of these losses are borne by private sector and individuals. The Chao Phraya River flood in Bangkok in late 2011 is a powerful example which is of relevance to Viet Nam. More than 1,000 factories and 800 companies were flooded over three months, which seriously disrupted their production chains and undermined their prospects of sustaining long-term business.
Secondly, economic globalization creates new vulnerabilities. Effects of disasters are no longer confined to a particular area or region. In a globalized supply chain, a disaster in one locality can disrupt the entire production network. Disaster-prone countries such as Viet Nam are at risk of losing their market share to competitors.

Thirdly, 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.

As such, the 2013 GAR Report stresses that the capacity to manage and reduce disasters is becoming more important than ever, and that it will define the competitiveness, resilience and sustainability of businesses, cities and countries. It also underlines the importance of risk governance, including legislation, institutional set-up, and integration of disaster risk reduction into socio-economic development policies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As Viet Nam will soon adopt the first ever Law on Disaster Risk Management and move toward its implementation, I would like to share a few thoughts for today’s discussion:

The importance of thorough disaster risk assessment as part of decision making on private and public sector investments cannot be over-emphasized. Development planning that is disaster-conscious and resilient is vital. It is encouraging that the draft law emphasizes risk assessment, which becomes even more important in the context of climate change. 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 plans.

Furthermore, the law and its implementation guidelines should create a policy and regulatory framework for private sector participation in disaster risk reduction. A public-private partnership strategy that provides appropriate incentives and the level playing field for the private sector to engage in disaster risk management is needed. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Central Committee for Disaster Management and the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industries is a good first step. The partnership between the Government, civil society organizations and international development partners in support of the national community-based disaster risk management is another positive example.

Multi-stakeholder participation will be essential in promoting information and knowledge sharing and stronger accountabilities in disaster risk reduction.  Activating the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, adopted by the Government last year, will provide an excellent opportunity for the participation of private sector and other stakeholders in Viet Nam.

In the spirit of the 2013 GAR Report, I hope today’s discussion promotes wider ownership of disaster risk management in Viet Nam across public and private sector stakeholders following the principles of shared risks and shared values.

In conclusion, let me reaffirm the UN System’s continued commitment to working with the Government, civil society, private sector and donor community to strengthen the country’s resilience to disaster risks.

Thank you once again for joining today’s discussion.