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 This year’s International Symposium closely follows on the heels of the International Colloquium concluded in October 2017.  This time, the participating institutions have expanded to include our partner from international guests, Resource Speakers, and presentors from various linked and engaged international and local partners particularly with academia as well as private sector commercial and business establishments. The theme of this year’s Research Colloquium is “Investing in Business Continuity.”

The International Symposium comes urgently as the provisions of the Preamble of the Sendai Framework adopted by the United Nations in March, 2015.  Section 2 therein asks States to build resilience into policies, plans, programs and budgets at all levels, a reiteration of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 that work at all levels is needed, and that Disaster Risk Management (DRM) requires a multi-sectoral and inclusive approach.  In this regard, governments are asked to engage with relevant stakeholders, identifying both public and private sectors, civil society organizations (CSOs), academia, and scientific and research institutions to work together, and lastly – which is relevant to this Symposium’s theme – for businesses to integrate DRM into management practices.

It is on this note that both international Frameworks (Hyogo and Sendai) highlighted the role of stakeholders, especially citing academia, scientific and research institutions, business, professional associations, and the private sector to integrate DRM includingbusiness continuity into business models and practices through DR-informed investments in micro- small, and medium-scale enterprises, conduct awareness raising and training for their employees and customers.

The Sendai Framework Priority 3 identifies Investing in DRR for Resilience by means of increasing business  resilience  and  protection  of  livelihoods  and  productive  assets  throughout  the  supply  chains,  ensure  continuity  of  services  and  integrate  disaster  risk  management into business models and practices; by promoting the  development  and  strengthening  of  disaster  risk  transfer  and  sharing  mechanisms  and  instruments  in  close  cooperation  with  partners  in  the  international  community, business, international financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders, and by promoting and supporting collaboration among relevant public and private stakeholders to enhance the resilience of business to disasters.  Investing in disaster risk reduction ensures business continuity, safeguards long-term investments, and provides protection to individuals, communities and environments.

Our own Republic Act 10121 establishing the Philippine DRRRM system, the National DRRM Framework, and Institutionalizing the National DRRM Plan, stipulates the need for the establishment of training institutes to train public and private individuals in formulating local DRRM plans.  Moreover, training institutes are mandated to consolidate and prepare training materials and publications of DRRM books and manuals to assist DRRM workers in their planning and implementation of DRRM programs and activities. The training institutes also conduct research programs to upgrade knowledge and skills and document best practices on DRRM, as well as conduct periodic awareness and education programs.  Integration of DRR into school curricula of secondary and tertiary levels whether public or private, including formal/nonformal technical vocational indigenous learning and out-of-school courses and programs is also mandated by the above national law.

The theme of the International Symposium indeed aligns itself with previous international frameworks and national plans and frameworks on DRRM. Cooperation with all relevant stakeholders at all levels is an imperative.  In this Symposium, the focus is on academia, research institutions, and the private sector area of business and commercial establishments to assist the numerous small and medium-scale enterprises in their local plans for DRRM. Such steps are small yet big steps toward achieving what the Hyogo Framework has stressed: Disasters impede progress to Sustainable Development (SD). Put in another way, effective DRM contributes to SD, on condition that all stakeholders, at all levels participate and cooperate to build disaster-resilient communities. 

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