“We will take whatever measures are available to us, to enable us to withstand any threats to the uninterrupted operations of our businesses, to minimize outages, reduce losses and more importantly, save our people’s lives.” This was the statement made by Lopez Group Chairman Emeritus and OML Center Founder Oscar M. Lopez as he emphasized the urgency and importance of preparation and planning at the recently-concluded 9th Senior Disaster Management Officials’ Forum (SDMOF) under the banner of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
Held last September 22, 2015 in Iloilo City, the Forum aimed to develop a Disaster Risk Reduction Framework in an effort to build resilient communities for the Asia-Pacific region. Collectively, this region containing 40% of the world’s population, experiences over 70% of the world’s natural disasters (source: APEC website). The chosen theme for the conference, “Whole-of-Economy Approach: A Paradigm Shift to Adapt to the ‘New Normal’,” acknowledges the greater frequency and intensity of disasters that strike the Asia-Pacific region.
Mr. Lopez joined other speakers at the preliminary session on “Understanding the ‘New Normal’ in the Asia Pacific region” and spoke particularly on “Understanding the Impacts of the ‘New Normal’ on Trade and Business.” This session provided an assessment of the prevailing conditions, both regionally and globally, in disaster risk management.
In his speech, Mr. Lopez discussed the vulnerability of the Asia-Pacific region, as evidenced by catastrophic disasters in the region over the past ten years. As a specific instance of how disasters can affect business, he described the devastating effects of super typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan) on the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and the ensuing disruption in regular operations and in the supply chain. Mr. Lopez recounted how EDC went beyond the confines of its facilities in its disaster response efforts, to help those in its host communities in the province of Leyte. He recalled that the vulnerability of similar communities to natural disasters, and the indispensable role of science and technology to systematically develop solutions and build resilience to natural disasters, had earlier led to the creation of the Oscar M. Lopez Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation.
From a business standpoint, he advocated putting a disaster risk and reduction (DRR) plan in place. He further cited lessons learned in the aftermath of the storm and concluded with a call to “embrace DRR as a national, regional and local priority” and to transform policies into “actionable programs and capacities for local communities.”
From let to right: Undersecretary Alexander P. Pama of Office of Civil Defense, Mr. Felix I. Icochea of Peru’s National Institute of Civil Defense, Mr. Nicholas Barker of Emergency Management Australia, Mr. Oscar M. Lopez of Lopez Group and OML Center, Assistant Secretary Raymund E. Liboro of Department of Science and Technology. (Photo courtesy of www.apec2015gallery.com)
Lopez Group Chairman Emeritus and OML Center Founder Oscar M. Lopez and Office of Civil Defense Undersecretary Alexander P. Pama