SM PRIME Holdings Inc. President Hans Sy on Friday urged the government to upgrade the laws on properties and businesses to ensure that these anticipate extreme climatic realities and make businesses more sustainable and resilient.
Sy told a news conference after speaking at the 2nd Top Leaders Forum at the SMX Convention that, “even businesses with matured disaster risk management strategies are challenged by the present set up of resilient investments.”
“I am sure that the collective inputs and participation from the members of this forum will help shape future policies on disaster risk reduction,” he said, adding that the attendees (all of them big business owners) “will leverage this opportunity to further our shared value efforts and deepen the region’s overall capacity for investing in disaster resilience.”
Sy said that SM was in the process of building a Savemore in Tacloban, near the Gaisano mall, which was looted by the helpless victims. “We were still constructing our Savemore there so we were lucky we did not lose anything,” Sy said.
He added that since he took the helm of mall and property developments of the SM Group, he made sure that they conformed with the environmental standards on easements and zoning to ensure “our business, employees, customers and our company of huge losses due to environmental disasters.”
Sy said that the Philippines experienced 104 significant typhoons and 72 floods since 2002, with the disasters costing P7.8 billion.
The forum, in cooperation with United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), aims to provide a platform for business owners to discuss possible incentives for investments in resilience.
Lifting from the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change 2012 report, Sy said that,
“Making infrastructure resilient to natural disasters is a daunting challenge, not least because of the vast area of coverage that includes transport, electricity, water supply and sanitation and buildings and other structures.”
Resilience, he said, is defined as a “system’s ability to anticipate, absorb, and recover from hazardous event in a timely and efficient manner.”
Among the top UN officials present in the one-day forum were: Margareta Wahlstrom, special representative for secretary-general for Disaster Risk Reduction; Sandra Wu, chief executive officer of Kokusai Kogyo Holdings Co. Ltd. and chairman, UNISDR Private Sector Advisory Group.
The thrust toward enhancing disaster response and furthering disaster preparedness through resilient investments, especially throughout Asia and the developing countries like the Philippines, has been a continuous challenge, Sy added.
He said that fortunately for those present in the forum on Friday, none was as affected as the local communities and the local populace in the areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda.
“This is due to our heavy investments in disaster resilience to ensure the longevity of our establishments and safeguarding the communities where we operate,” Sy stressed.
“At this day and age, disaster resilience is no longer just meant to protect commercial interests but also a humanitarian imperative commitment to contribute to economic sustainability of the communities beyond our corporate walls,” he added.