MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Hans T. Sy, Chairman of the Executive Committee of SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) emphasized the importance of investing in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies for a disaster-resilient society during the convocation program of the Asian Institute of Management’s Executive Master Class in Disaster Risk and Crisis Management (EMDRCM).
“As we journey towards a disaster-resilient society, we continue to invest in prevention, preparedness and collaborative crisis management response, all critical components of DRR strategy,” Sy said in his speech to the incoming EMDRCM students.
Sy’s expertise, involvement, and contributions in DRR served as an inspiration to the private sector in leading global initiatives to make businesses more resilient. His involvement with DRR and the United Nations (UN) flourished into his being the first Filipino member of the United
Nations ARISE global board, the private sector alliance for disaster risk reduction.
“From a country’s development perspective, DRR is vital to building a more equitable and sustainable future… We are one in pursuit of resilience. The responsibility does not lie with the government alone. It is a concern for everyone including citizens like you who will be empowered to make decisions for the civil society as a whole,” Sy said.
Sy has been a staunch advocate of disaster resilience in the private sector. Under his leadership, SM has been taking great strides in reducing the company’s environmental impact through sustainable plans for its malls. Disaster resilient features made its way into mall design as SM has been investing 10 percent of its mall capital expenditure towards disaster risk resilient research and construction.
“During the storm surge that hit Roxas Boulevard, all the businesses were affected except the Mall of Asia. That’s because we already had this provision for a storm surge defense wall that worked. We saved a few billion pesos because of this investment. If we did not have that storm surge wall — imagine, all the merchandise and actually, all our tenants on the ground level would have been greatly affected,” said Sy.
Some of his notable DRR projects include the construction of SM City Marikina on stilts as well as rainwater catchment basins in 20 other malls to alleviate flooding in the surrounding communities; and the latest disaster resiliency project, the construction of concrete decking instead of metal roofing where they will put gardens to help the environment. These projects made an impact on SM Supermalls’ capability to manage natural disasters while contributing to their surrounding communities at the same time.
Sy also shared that before these projects were implemented, he had to justify the necessity of these disaster resilient features. He noted, however, that DRR is not an issue of who is correct and who is not, but an issue of awareness. “Disasters can happen anytime without our knowing, so it’s wise to plan ahead,” he said.
Before he closed his speech, Sy encouraged the students on this exciting and challenging path that they are about to take. “Let us continue to learn, to innovate, to look for ideas and solutions, and to follow our sense of purpose… Let us keep DRR advocacy close to our hearts and continue to help and care for one another to make the world a better, safer, and happier place,” he concluded.
SM Prime Holdings, Inc. (SM Prime) is one of the largest integrated property developers in Southeast Asia that offers innovative and sustainable Lifestyle Cities with the development of malls, residences, offices, hotels, and convention centers. SM Prime remains committed to its role as a catalyst for economic growth by enriching the quality of life of millions of Filipinos.