SM Holds 2014 Green Retail Agenda -- an Annual Symposium on Sustainable Business Practices

The Philippines is undisputedly one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world. We get 20 or more typhoons a year as well as other natural calamities, which often result in the loss of lives and properties. 

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Recently, SM Supermalls held its annual symposium on sustainable business practices at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. Dubbed the 2014 Green Retail Agenda, the event featured disaster reduction experts who discussed disaster preparedness measures to protect businesses and communities from the onslaught and aftermath of natural calamities; new technologies in disaster management; and communicating disaster preparations.

Speakers in the symposium included Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., director of PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology); Dr. Alfred Mahar Lagmay, director of Project NOAH; Atom Araullo, TV host and reporter of ABS-CBN; Nathaniel "Mang Tani" Cruz, former director of PAGASA (Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration); Sharon Almanza, deputy national treasurer of Department of Finance; Vince Rapisura, President and CEO of SEDPI (Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc.); Ramon Isberto, public affairs head of Smart Communications; Leandro Leviste, president of Solar Philippines; and Usec. Lesley Cordero, undersecretary of Office of the Presidential Adviser for Rehabilitation and Recovery

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Julio Camarena-Villasenor, Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines, made the keynote address and shared how his country's proactive approach on disasters have garnered deep rooted resilience in its people. I believe that we, Filipinos, are also highly resilient. But this should not mean we have to endure and continue experiencing the negative effects of calamities especially if they can be minimized or outright prevented through better and wiser measures.

The Green Retail Agenda's aim is to address the lack of awareness on the connection between business investment practices and disaster risks. SMPHI President Hans Sy stressed the need for businesses to understand that the growing environment problem is relevant to everyone, not only for the business community, but for the economy as a whole.

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"Trillions of dollars of new investments will pour into hazard-exposed regions. In most economies, the private sector is responsible for 70-85% of these new investments," pointed out Sy. "Therefore the decisions made by the private sector have far-reaching consequences on disaster risk accumulation and on underlying risk drivers."

The theme for this year's conference, The Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction, emphasizes the need to prepare for the unforeseen to protect both businesses and communities. By seeking to educate, create awareness, and emphasize action points within the private sector and other key stakeholders, I join SM Supermalls' goal to ensure that disasters will be prepared for and more easily recovered from.    

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In March 2015, the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be held in Sendai, Japan. With this, it is hoped that the role of the private sector will become much more in the center of global efforts in reducing current disaster risks, prevent future disaster risks, and strengthen the resilience of communities and nations.

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