The Business Case for Disaster and Climate Risk Management - Samoa

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Samoa
Organizer
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific
Samoa - government
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Office in Incheon for Northeast Asia and Global Education and Training Institute for Disaster Risk Reduction

Background:

Millions of dollars of new business investment will be made in Samoa in the coming years. Much of it will be spent in hazard-exposed locations. How disaster sensitive this investment is will in part determine the future resilience of the country. In most economies, the private sector is responsible for 70–85 percent of this investment. The decisions made by business have far-reaching consequences on disaster/ climate risk prevention or accumulation.

Tourism is a vital sector of the Samoan economy; the country excels in it. The sector comprises about 60% of its total value of exports (counted as international tourism receipts). Tourism centres act as hubs for the local economy, attracting, for instance shops and other small business as well as public infrastructure. Investment in tourism, however, often comes with a high level of disaster risk. Disasters in such areas cascade through the surrounding economic hub affecting communities and businesses.

Workshop Purpose:

  • Better local private sector cooperation that strengthens your disaster/climate resilience
  • A stronger understanding of how your business can strengthen its resilience to natural hazards and the effects of climate change
  • Better knowledge of what others are doing and how you can learn from and partner with them
  • How to develop a draft disaster/climate resilient business continuity plan for your business to inform more detailed steps
  • A good grasp of what ‘smart’ disaster/climate-resilient businesses are doing elsewhere
  • A stronger understanding of global trends in disasters and climate change
  • A strengthened partnership with UNISDR and the Samoa Emergency Management Office

Outcomes:

Although hazards such as earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis are natural in origin, there is nothing natural about how disaster risk has become embedded in the business landscape. This is the result of man-made decisions. Businesses are finding opportunities in ‘resilient proofing’ new and existing infrastructure, buildings and supply chains. Larger enterprises are investing to reduce their vulnerability by strengthening the resilience of smaller businesses that are suppliers and partners. This strengthens business sustainability via securing local employment, increased productivity, tax revenue and welfare.

Samoa is exposed to a variety of hazards, including cyclones, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Cyclone Evan in 2012 is estimated to have cost the country almost 20% of its annual GDP (USD 200 million-plus). UNISDR ONEA-GETI provided technical support to Samoa by providing training for private sector aimed at increasing their capacity to better understand the importance of disaster risk reduction as a concept to reduce cost of business continuity management.

As a result, Samoa has built their Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction. Participants expressed that the training brought practical tools for businesses to learn about disaster risk management and to strengthen collaboration in risk reduction with the Government. “This workshop has developed a stronger understanding of disaster resilience in the Private Sector,” said Ms. Ane Moananu, Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Chamber of Commerce.

Although some businesses in Samoa have a continuity plan in place, with provisions and systems to respond to natural hazards, participants said the need for a risk management plan that allows businesses to address risk more proactively can contribute to community resilience. Some of the key areas for concrete actions recognized by businesses are reinvesting in safe infrastructure, implementing building codes, securing back-up storage in safe locations, implementing scenarios and drills for staff, and participating further in national drills.

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