Experts urge firms to invest in tech, create resilient businesses

·3 min read

ENVIRONMENTAL experts have called on businesses to adopt more comprehensive risk management plans and check environmental risks in their place of business to avoid disasters in the future.

This urgent call to the business sector was made during the Sustainable Development Finance (SDF) webinar on Natural Disaster Resilience organized by the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). The activity highlighted the need for companies, big and small, to rethink risk management frameworks and make them part of the overall business strategy.

Department of Science and Technology Undersecretary and Officer-in-Charge of Phivolcs Dr. Renato Solidum Jr. wants business owners to understand that the country is faced with various climate and environmental risks that can be detrimental to the growth of their businesses.

Doing business in the Philippines entails inherent and natural risks as the country sits in the Pacific Ring of Fire, aside from being tied to the Typhoon Belt.

Phivolcs records an average of 20 earthquakes daily, alongside other environmental threats such as typhoons that have increased in frequency and intensity due to climate change, flooding and volcanic eruptions. The Philippines is usually visited by an average of 20 typhoons every year, five of which are destructive.

But natural calamities and other environment risks can now be detected by various technologies, which could help businesses prepare and mitigate their impact, according to Ed Tongson of the World Wide Fund (WWF).

One of these tools is the Hazard Hunter application, which can help identify and measure the effects of possible natural disasters. HazardHunterPH is the country’s one-stop shop for hazard assessment. It is a tool that can be used to generate indicative hazard assessment reports on the user’s specified location. It is helpful as a reference of property owners, buyers, land developers, planners and other stakeholders needing immediate hazard information and assessment. It aims to increase people’s awareness to natural hazards and advocates the implementation of plans to prepare for and mitigate the effects of hazards.

Besides investing in technology, Tongson also advised businesses to have their buildings assessed and to explore the added protection of financing their risks.

“Financing your risk is a partnership between you, your bank and your insurance company. Our advice is for insurance to cover replacement costs for your peace of mind,” he said.

BPI Corporate Credit Products Group head Roland Gerard Veloso Jr. said businesses should also adapt to these risks to become more resilient.

“We encourage businesses to take the critical steps needed to create a more resilient business, to be able to adapt to the times and pivot when the situation calls for it. This is the key to sustainability.

Climate resilience and preparedness are important for most industries as these will help them realize the interventions they need to manage risks,” Veloso said.

BPI is the first bank in the Philippines to have engaged in climate and environmental risk preparedness initiatives. It has a dedicated SDF team aimed at helping clients protect their businesses, making them resilient and sustainable.

BPI’s SDF portfolio has reported a total of 355 projects financed, with P190.9 billion in cumulative availed loans as of December 2020. Of this number, 158 were energy efficiency projects, 89 were renewable projects, and 108 were climate resilience projects.

From 2008 to 2020, its total greenhouse gas reduction reached a total of 28.6 million tons of carbon, equivalent to growing 472 million trees. (KOC)