As the heat index continues to simmer this summer, we can’t help but pray for the rains to come to tide us over this sweltering heat. However, whether dry or wet, the Philippines will always be prone to disasters brought about by climate change.
Yolanda, Ondoy, Ruby, Sendong, and Glenda are more than just your friendly people in the neighborhood, and El Niño and La Niña are far from a cute boy and girl, respectively. Their names came upon us to wreak havoc on our lives—they spell disasters, both natural and man-made.
Given the onslaught of disasters in our country and the world, it is high time we learned to manage the risks they bring about. One of the necessary ways to do this is through education. As someone involved in teaching operations management to both graduate and undergraduate students in the university, I always discuss concepts related to business continuity planning (BCP). This concept, as its name suggests, focuses on proactive approaches to ensure that an organization continues its operation in spite of extreme events. Though some enterprises have to shut down after a disaster for reasons of safety, BCP ensures that the return to normalcy is quick and reliable.
The focus of BCP in my classes has been primarily geared toward the operations function of a business. However, given the increase in the number of extreme events, it is high time that disaster risk management (DRM) in business education be included as part of the curricula of both graduate and undergraduate programs in business. In fact, such initiative has already been undertaken by a number of universities abroad.
Even the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has just recently concluded a workshop on DRM in business education. The workshop’s objectives include, among others, “mainstreaming DRM within the curricula of undergraduate, graduate, outreach and professional development programs” in order “to expand disaster risk reduction efforts in the private sector in which business education plays a key role.”
Given the popularity of business courses in Philippine colleges and universities and given growing demand for graduates with managerial skills and capabilities, courses on DRM aim to produce leaders who should be able to meet UNISDR’s goal of the “substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods, and health and in the economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries.” This goal, through the Sendai Framework, must take into account the inclusion of the following: “understanding disaster risk; strengthening disaster risk governance to manage disaster risk, investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience; and, enhancing disaster preparedness for effective response and to Build Back Better in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction.”
The goals and priorities of DRM go beyond education in business schools. I used business education as an example because I teach in a business school, but DRM must be included in all aspects and stages of education—from formal to non-formal and from young to old. The ability to manage risks, whether natural or man-made, will always be an enduring lifelong skill that can be applied in all aspects of our lives.
Brian C. Gozun is associate professor of the Decision Sciences and Innovation Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. He is currently doing his postdoctoral fellowship in crisis management and innovation at La Salle—Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona, Spain. He would like to create a DRM module for business education and other fields, as well as to collaborate with others who have the same interest. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.