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Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 12: DRR, Inc.: Can the Private Sector Revive Resilience?

Time (GMT +01) 14:30 16:00
Christina Blunt (ATHA Project Coordinator, HPCR)
Ofilio Mayorga (Legal Associate, HPCR)

Dan Sparks (Global Humanitarian Assistance Programme)
James Crask (PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP)
Simon Levine (Overseas Development Institute)


As the planet warms, the vulnerability of communities in less developed countries rises. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in 2008, 20 million people were displaced by climate-related sudden onset disasters. Additionally, as AlertNet reports, in 2011, floods, typhoons, and earthquakes caused over $274 billion of economic losses in Asia alone. Without appropriate mitigation strategies, extreme weather and rising tides are likely to lead to greater losses of life and development investments in the coming decades.

While professionals in the humanitarian and development sectors recognize the importance of countering the negative impact of climate change and weather-related disasters, pathways to implementation remain difficult to navigate. In particular, an incongruity exists between the recognized importance of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and the funding allocated to resilience building efforts. According to a recent study by the think tank, Global Humanitarian Assistance, DRR funding constitutes just 1% of aid for the top forty recipient countries of humanitarian assistance. Though DRR can ultimately reduce humanitarian expenditures and protect development investments, such long term investments put a great deal of pressure on already stretched humanitarian budgets and are not always congruous with the mandates of agencies designed to respond rather than to prevent. Furthermore, many potentially successful DRR initiatives in the humanitarian and development communities have been stalled by difficulties in leadership, management, and coordination.

Meanwhile, the private sector has begun to undertake more concerted efforts. On September 25, leading Asian businesses agreed on a Business Continuity Management (BCM) plan to move toward safeguarding businesses against disasters. Also, CEOs and top managers based in the Philippines and Asia formed the Asian Private Sector Partnership on Risk Reduction to work in conjunction with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Private Sector Advisory Board. Given the aforementioned risks that climate change represents to businesses in Asia, business leaders in the region have reportedly come to view DRR as a way to protect business investments while earning the respect of local communities by strengthening disaster resilience.

This humanitarian assistance webcast will draw together an expert panel to examine the following questions:

  • Should the public or private sector lead investment in resilience building? What are the costs and benefits of each approach?
  • How can the humanitarian and development communities work with the private sector on DRR while remaining impartial actors?
  • How can the model of resilience building and DRR be replicated in areas where private investment is perceived as high risk due to factors such as violence?