HA NOI (VNS)— A United Nations report has highlighted that while fewer people are losing their lives due to natural disasters in Viet Nam, floods, storms and other disasters are still wreaking havoc and causing huge economic losses.
Viet Nam has therefore been urged to ensure thorough disaster risk assessments in decision making on investments in the public and private sectors.
"We have good news that the number of people dying due to disasters is decreasing but we had bad news that the economic losses are going through the roof," said Jerry Velasquez, senior regional co-ordinator of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction at a conference to launch the 2013 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR13) in Ha Noi yesterday.
The regional expert said a large portion of the losses were in the private sector, both in direct and indirect ways.
The report, Creating Shared Value: the Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction, shows that direct losses from floods, earthquakes and drought have been under-estimated by at least 50 per cent. The report warns the world's business community that economic losses linked to disasters are "out of control" and will continue to escalate unless disaster risk management becomes a core part of business investment strategies.
"The question that we have here is how to help the private sector to protect themselves, help others and promote new business opportunities from disasters," said Velasquez, adding that even climate change could create new business opportunities.
UNDP Deputy Country Director in Viet Nam, Bakhodir Burkhanov, said: "Investment decisions are not always made with sufficient attention to hazard exposure. Governments are working on effective disaster response and preparedness strategies, and businesses can do more to anticipate risks and to disclose them to regulators and investors."
"The challenge is to ensure the availability of risk information that is accessible publicly and utilised for generating comprehensive risk reduction measures, beyond business continuity plan."
Burkhanov called for wider ownership of disaster risk management in Viet Nam across public and private sector stakeholders following the principles of shared risks and shared values.
Speaking at the conference, Nguyen Xuan Dieu, Deputy Director of the agriculture ministry's General Directorate for Water Resources, said: "The latest 5-year review of disaster risk reduction work shows that fatalities and injuries reduced by 8 per cent compared to that of the previous 5-year period but economic losses tended to increase. This is partly due to insufficient attention of businesses to disaster risk reduction work."
"Experiences and lessons learnt from developing countries and disaster affected countries provided by the report are very useful for Viet Nam," he said.
The report, with the designation GAR13, is the third biennial report co-ordinated by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
The report is built on the reviews of national disaster loss data bases in 40 countries, survey responses from 1,300 SMEs in disaster-prone locations in the Americas, and a review of risk management in 14 major corporations. — VNS