NRC presents resilience work at LCF CSR Expo

Last July 4, National Resilience Council (NRC) Executive Director Marilou Erni showcased NRC’s work in a session on Disaster Emergency Response and Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience during the 18th League of Corporate Foundations’ (LCF) Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Expo at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. With the theme “Toward Collective Impact: Collaborations that Work!”, the two-day LCF CSR Expo gathered different sectors to discuss opportunities for impactful collaborations, learn from each other about best CSR practices and to promote a common framework for addressing pressing national issues and for achieving sustainable development.

Ms. Erni began her presentation with the latest World Risk Index. The Index reported that the Philippines remained third most at risk in the world—after Vanuatu and Tonga—and that the country was rated very high in terms of vulnerability, and high on exposure, susceptibility and lack of coping capacities. While showing a 2019 Global Assessment Report (GAR) infographic, she added that there is a need for a shift from disaster response to risk prevention through risk-informed systems-based approaches and decision making.

Ms. Marilou Erni represented NRC at the 18th LCF CSR Expo in Pasay City.

NRC has always emphasized that the complex and dynamic nature of risk, and the Philippines’ unique patterns of development, required trans-disciplinary approaches that needed the active participation of different sectors and communities themselves. Through a whole-of-society effort, this would bridge the critical gaps between science, policy and practice. Thus, ARISE Philippines and the NRC are working together to advance science and technology-based public-private partnerships in the attainment of the shared goals of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and the New Urban Agenda.

Ms. Erni went on to discuss NRC’s Resilient LGU Program, a three-year pathway that uniquely integrates leadership and governance and science and technology, and builds the internal capacities of local government units for them to develop and manage their own resilience initiatives. With the help of other sectors and by anchoring on international and national frameworks, NRC also developed its Resilient Local Government Systems Scorecard, a guide with over 90 indicators organized according to five cross-cutting pillars: Leadership and Governance, Human Development, Local Economy, Infrastructure and Environment.

Ms. Erni also talked about the ADOPT-A-CITY Program, NRC’s latest innovation which aimed to strengthen public-private partnerships and encourage direct private sector investment in local disaster risk reduction and long-term resilience efforts. The city-specific partnership model was launched last June 17 through a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between SM Prime and Cagayan de Oro City. Addressing the participants, she encouraged the members of LCF to join the call for resilience work, highlighting SM Prime Executive Committee Chair and NRC Co-Chair for Private Sector Mr. Hans Sy’s message that “Disaster Risk Reduction makes good business sense.”

Speakers were given recognition after the session on Disaster Emergency Response and Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience.

“We have to transform our frame of mind, our thinking, and our development model, to make us less exposed and vulnerable to climate change and disasters,” shared Ms. Erni, quoting NRC Convenor Amb. Roberto Romulo. “While resilience is our goal, transformation in terms of evidence-informed leadership, knowledge, competencies and skills is critical to achieving it. This type of transformative leadership must be achieved through multi-stakeholder partnerships at both national and local levels.”

Photos by NRC.

NRC President speaks at ASEP International Convention

Ms. Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, President of the National Resilience Council (NRC), graced the 19th ASEP International Convention (AIC) as a keynote speaker at Crowne Plaza Galleria in Quezon City. With the theme “Structural Engineering for Infrastructure Resilience”, the 3-day convention organized by the Association for Structural Engineers in the Philippines—held from May 30 to June 1—was an opportunity to discuss the role of structural engineers in building a disaster resilient Philippines.

NRC President Antonia Yulo Loyzaga delivered her keynote presentation at the 19th AIC.

In her presentation, Ms. Loyzaga briefly introduced NRC’s work on disaster risk reduction and resilience. She then set the tone by citing data from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), mentioning that 3,000 disasters had occurred worldwide since 2007. While there had been a decrease in deaths, there was an increase in economic loss and damage, most notably in developing countries. Ms. Loyzaga added that most disasters had been in Asia, killing more people due to earthquakes rather than the more frequent storms and floods.

To paint a picture of the Philippines’ situation, Ms. Loyzaga said the country ranked third in the latest World Risk Index. In 2018 alone, studies by CRED and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) indicated that the country ranked seventh in total disaster death toll, eighth among the Top 10 deadliest disasters and second to India in the Top 10 countries with the most number of people affected.

With all these data, she shared four key messages as a takeaway for the participants of the convention: working on disaster risk reduction alone is not enough; disasters and development are linked; addressing infrastructure needs means dealing with complex adaptive networks; and incorporating leadership and governance prove to be critical in the shared journey to resilience.

Awarding of keynote speakers at the 19th AIC.

“The real engines of growth are human ingenuity, professionalism and productivity,” reminded Ms. Loyzaga at the end of her presentation. “The country needs ASEP to safeguard these and ensure our sustainable and resilient future. Together, we hope to help build a bridge to Resilience as we work together to achieve convergence, strategic coherence and continuity.”

NRC President Antonia Yulo Loyzaga and ASEP President Engr. Gilbert Magbutay during the signing of the NRC Pledge of Partnership for a Resilient Philippines.

ASEP President Engr. Gilbert Magbutay joined Ms. Loyzaga onstage afterwards to sign the NRC Pledge of Partnership for a Resilient Philippines. By signing the agreement, ASEP affirmed its support to the NRC in its pursuit of its resilience agenda.

Photos by ASEP and NRC

NRC showcases resilience work at GP2019

The National Resilience Council (NRC) attended the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s (UNDRR) 2019 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP2019), where NRC had several opportunities to share its resilience work with representatives of member states, parliamentarians, local governments, UN bodies, intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholder groups.

Held from May 13 to 17 in Geneva, Switzerland, GP2019 was the last global session before achieving Target E of the Sendai Framework: Substantially increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020. UNDRR organizes the Global Platform every two years as a chance to evaluate programs and initiatives, share knowledge on and discuss the progress and trends in disaster risk reduction (DRR).

High Level Dialogue session during GP2019. Photo by UNDRR.

Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) International Board Member, SM Prime Executive Committee Chairman and NRC Co-Chair for Private Sector, Mr. Hans Sy, was a panelist in the May 14 session on “Building the resilience of MSMEs to climate and disaster risk” during Private Sector Day. It tackled the needs of MSMEs in relation to climate and disaster resilience building, as well as addressed the bigger picture of MSMEs supporting and investing in disaster resilience.

SM Prime Executive Committee Chaiman and NRC Co-Chair Hans Sy during the session entitled “Building the resilience of MSMEs to climate and disaster risk” during Private Sector Day.

Mr. Sy also spoke in the May 16 High Level Dialogue session on “Risk-Informed Public and Private Investments”. It was an opportunity to share best practices and explore approaches to coming up with good risk-informed and multi-dividend investments. During the session, Mr. Sy highlighted SM Prime’s investments to resilience and the work of NRC in reducing security risk by addressing informal settlement issues in Metro Manila.

Mr. Sy as a panelist at the High Level Dialogue session on risk-informed public and private investments. Photo by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada
Mr Sy during the High Level Dialogue. Photo by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada

NRC President Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, meanwhile, spoke in a session on “Contextualizing the Science and Technology Roadmap” at the Science and Policy Forum. The session aimed to encourage participants in adopting and contributing to the revised “Science and Technology Roadmap to support the Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030”, a roadmap developed during the January 2016 Science and Technology Conference in Geneva.

NRC President Antonia Yulo Loyzaga served as a panelist for a session on “Contextualizing the Science and Technology Roadmap” at the Science and Policy Forum. Photo by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada

On the same day, Ms. Loyzaga participated as a panelist at an interactive discussion on “Mechanisms for Impact: Identifying Modalities towards Successful SEM” at the Stakeholder Forum. The session allowed participants to share and learn good practices from initiatives around the world with a multi-sectoral approach to disaster risk reduction and resilience. SEM, or the Stakeholder Engagement Mechanism, is a UNDRR initiative that aims to foster closer engagement among stakeholders in the implementation of the Sendai Framework, while also linking itself to other processes with similar mechanisms.

UNDRR’s first Synthesis and Analysis Report of the Sendai Framework Voluntary Commitments featuring NRC’s Resilient Local Government Systems Program.

On May 16, UNDRR unveiled its first Synthesis and Analysis Report of the Sendai Framework Voluntary Commitments (SFVC), a report which included NRC’s voluntary commitment (VC) entitled “Building Resilient Local Government Systems in the Philippines”. Prior to GP2019, UNDRR approved and published NRC’s Resilient Local Government Systems Program in the SFVC online platform, an initiative launched on December 2018 that aims to encourage all-of-society and multi-stakeholder engagement in implementing the Sendai Framework.

The report cited NRC as a good example for gathering organizations with varying expertise, resources and capacities—such as Ateneo de Manila University, Manila Observatory and Zuellig Family Foundation as implementing partners and Carlos P. Romulo Foundation, San Miguel Corporation and SM Prime as funding partners—to strengthen and implement its programs and initiatives.

Aftermath of earthquakes: Immediate focus

By Amb. Roberto R. Romulo

The recent conference on “Megacities at risk: Engineering resilience to seismic hazards” by sheer coincidence took place a few days after the magnitude 6.1 earthquake that shook Central Luzon, followed by a 6.2 magnitude earthquake with the epicenter this time in Samar. No doubt this made more topical and urgent the importance of earthquake engineering and land use to minimize the casualties.

Majority of the casualties from the temblor that hit Central Luzon were the result of the collapse of a four-story building and a few private dwellings. As in earthquakes around the world, most casualties and property damage were not from the original movement of the ground – collapsing buildings were the primary killer. This is a combination of three deadly factors – poor structural design, bad construction, and location in vulnerable areas. Porac is located on soil that is prone to liquefaction which amplifies the shaking from the original quake.

While no structure can be entirely immune to damage from earthquakes, the goal of earthquake-resistant construction is to prevent the collapse of the building while minimizing the loss of functionality even though there may be some damage. Earthquakes have affected millions of lives in the last 100 years, and despite the improvements in technology and enactment of earthquake building codes, more continue to be killed by earthquakes than by climate related hazards. The failures seem to lie in the intersection between the cost of proper design and structural engineering, risk awareness, and lax enforcement.

In the Philippines, the Building Code specifies the construction method, appropriate size and spacing of beams, posts, and steel rods so that a structure can withstand up to Intensity 8 shaking, said Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) director Frederick Sison. According to Phivolcs executive director and DOST Undersecretary Renato Solidum, “with Intensity 6, we do not expect significant damage on a building. If it followed the Building Code, it should not have collapsed. Only cracks, minor damage are expected.”

Uniform regulations and enforcement

And there lies the crux of the matter, the implementation and enforcement of regulations concerning construction and land use. Most high rise development benefit from structural engineering with earthquake and typhoons in mind. Many existing buildings, however, need to be retrofitted. The problem is exacerbated outside the Metro Manila area where even though there is a preponderance of low rise buildings, these and residential buildings, are built in violation of the original approved building permit and without the application of proper structural design.

The conference reached important conclusions which support this reality where science, policy, and practice do not work in conjunction, particularly in the Philippine context.

  • While scientific data is available to aid risk assessment, there is a need to further localize data and to reduce this to language understandable to the layman. Although information is available, sharing and reach are limited. Universities, research institutes, and professional associations are largely untapped as sources of expertise. We can also learn lessons from the expertise and experience of our neighbors in the Pacific Ring of Fire.
  • Attempts to capacitate and communicate risk, however, do not always guarantee results. Knowledge is not translated into action by community due to lack of ownership. It does not facilitate a shift in mindset. Local knowledge is not fully embedded in the decision-making process and capacity-building is limited to training. There is hardly any monitoring and evaluation of how the training is consumed and applied over time and in the local context.
  • Although enabling policies abound for earthquake engineering (RA 10121, Building Code, etc) enforcement is weak at the local and national level. Policies need to be contextualized at the local level. Policies are also duplicating and conflicting to some extent. Public and private partnerships and investments in science to those exposed and vulnerable members of society need to be highlighted and proper enforcement needs to be jointly monitored and validated.

Department of Disaster Resilience

It became apparent during the discussion that there were many national and local authorities involved, sometimes at cross purposes. It was proposed that the National Resilience Council (NRC) may act as the facilitator in linking science, policy formulation, and implementation and practice. It was recommended that the immediate next step is to convene the academic institutions, professional associations, CSOs, and the private sector as a resource pool and plot the roadmap for multi-stakeholder partnerships for community resilience.

This might do for now, but my personal view is that it urgently requires a Cabinet level authority. Ideally, this should reside in a Department of Disaster Resilience. It has almost been two years since President Duterte’s enjoined “both houses of Congress to expeditiously craft a law establishing a new authority or department that is responsive to the prevailing 21st century conditions, and empowered to best deliver an enhanced disaster resiliency and quick disaster response” during his State of the Nation Address on July 24, 2017. Both the Senate and the House have filed various bills answering the President’s clamor, but so far none has been enacted into law.

It was heartening to see the level of importance that the national government and LGUs attached to good earthquake resilience by their participation in the conference. Fifteen national government agencies participated, as did 12 LGUs. The LGUs are the vanguard of earthquake preparedness and resilience. Residents of those areas covered by the LGU participants should find comfort that their public officials are on the ball. These include: Cagayan de Oro City, Naga City, Zamboanga City, Iriga City, Iloilo City (who are all NRC partners) as well as other LGUs – Rizal Province, Quezon City, Mandaluyong City, Bulacan, Muntinlupa, Marikina City, and Taguig City. The private sector was also well represented by major developers including Araneta Group, Ayala Land, Vista Land, Meralco and Robinsons Land Corp. Representatives from CSOs, university faculty and students as well as structural engineers, urban planners and architects were in attendance. We expected 150 participants, but the final count was 200.

The conference and workshops were organized by the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation and the NRC, which is co-chaired by Mr. Hans Sy and DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. It was held with the cooperation of Phivolcs, MMDA, the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience of Japan and the National Science and Technology Center for Disaster Reduction of Chinese Taipei. Experts from Japan, the US, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia and Singapore, as well as from ADB, shared their knowledge with the participants.

A more detailed presentation of the conference and workshop outcomes will be published shortly.

Romulo, R. (2019, May 3). Aftermath of earthquakes: Immediate focus, Filipino Worldview. Retrieved from

NRC co-facilitates ARISE PH general meeting

The Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) in the Philippines had its Annual General Meeting (AGM) last 29 April 2019 at the Mall of Asia Arena Annex (MAAX) Building in Pasay City.

Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Capacity Building and Training Service Director Susana Juangco spoke on behalf of OCD Administrator Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad.
NRC President Antonia Loyzaga (left) and SM Supermalls Vice President Liza Silerio (right) shared the work and accomplishments of NRC and SM, respectively.

ARISE Philippines’ Secretariat, SM Prime, and its Lead Implementing Partner, the National Resilience Council (NRC), co-organized the meeting to foster an understanding of the nature of the following ARISE work themes: Disaster & Risk Management Strategies; Education & Training; and Urban Risk Reduction & Resilience.

NRC Executive Director Malu Erni moderated the discussions on the three ARISE work themes.

In an NRC-facilitated session, members discussed their accomplishments according to the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) under each work theme. Among the outputs shared were NRC’s localized resilience scorecard for Disaster & Risk Management Strategies, Ateneo de Manila University’s Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience degree program for Education & Training and SM’s Resilience Center for Urban Risk Reduction & Resilience.

ARISE Philippines included the highlights from the meeting in a report for the 2019 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP2019), as well as used them as inputs for the 2019-2020 ARISE Philippines Roadmap.

As a side event, Ms. Rosemarie Rafael of Airspeed—a logistics and end-to-end solutions provider offering expertise in customs brokerage, cargo handling, local distribution, e-commerce deliveries, and warehousing—also signed the Pledge of Partnership for Resilience to formalize its commitment to working with NRC.

NRC Co-Chair Hans T. Sy (left) and NRC President Antonia Yulo Loyzaga (right) join Airspeed President Rosemarie Rafael as the organization officially partners with NRC.

ARISE, an initiative under the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), is a network of private sector organizations and entities that aim to align with the goals of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which are also consistent with that of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan and the NRC resilience platform. ARISE also takes on facilitation of sharing of knowledge and experience in tangible DRR project implementation.

Mr. Hans T. Sy (seated at the center) with speakers and special guests at the ARISE AGM.

Photos by SM