A disaster hampers the supply chain, production and overall marketing of all businesses, alongside having a severe impact on the people and environment, said business leaders and policymakers, calling for engaging the private sector in disaster risk management to mitigate the loss and hazards.
"The government needs to encourage the private sector with policy support so that every business organisation comes forward to create a private-sector emergency operation centre (PEOC)," Rizwan Rahman, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), said at a symposium on Tuesday.
Under the SUPER project, the DCCI, ActionAid Bangladesh, United Purpose and World Vision jointly organised the symposium on private sector participation and leadership in disaster risk management and the launching of the PEOC held on Tuesday at a city hotel.
The Strengthening Urban Public-Private Programming for Earthquake Resilience (SUPER) project is funded by European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.
"To build a green factory, the government should provide policy support. If it remains in every office, in case of an accident, everyone can easily be connected. Many volunteers from the fire department, police department, various ministries and the business community can be found easily," added the DCCI president.
He said Bangladesh is not immune to the consequences of natural disasters being a disaster-prone economy. Disaster risk has far-reaching consequences from disasters like earthquakes, fires and chemical explosions that heavily strike the sustainability of enterprises.
Citing different reports and studies, the business leader said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had reported that the earthquake risk in the country is severe.
The Department of Fire Service and Civil Defence of Bangladesh revealed that during the last decade till 2018 fire incidents caused a loss of $738 million worth of assets and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) in a study reported that natural disasters cost Bangladesh $15b in last 27 years, he added.
"Bangladesh needs to prioritise disaster management across the private sector accordingly our disaster risk reduction (DRR) ecosystem necessitates collaboration to provide holistic disaster protection and recovery financing solutions, especially in industries," said Rizwan Rahman.
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman said, "For our sustainable economic development, attracting investment and facing the risks of hazards, we need to improve our skills of disaster risks management. Moreover, it is not only the job of the public sector rather private sector's engagement is very important."
He said the ministry has initiated a state-of-the-art national emergency operation centre that will help create a database and provide the required assistance. He also emphasised engaging the young generation in research and innovation as well as using artificial intelligence to mitigate disaster risks.
Ambassador of the Philippines in Dhaka Alan L Deniega said in disaster risk management his country allocates 5% of their total budget and in 2018, the Philippines established the first-ever private sector emergency operation centre in the world.
He also said for capacity improvement in disaster risk management, both the public and private sectors should come forward to work together.
Head of ECHO, Bangladesh Anna Orlandini said, for securing a sustainable future linkage between the national disaster management system, the private sector is very crucial.
Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh Farah Kabir said, "We should have an integrated risk analysis system under the supervision of public-private partnership."