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MANILA — Investing in disaster-risk reduction is good for business as it will eventually save the company from suffering bigger losses, said SM Prime Holdings Inc. president Hans T. Sy at a recent global forum organized by the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Sy represented the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) in the Global Forum on Disaster Risk Reduction organized by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

PSAG is attended by members by invitation-only and represents a wider private sector that works with UNISDR to address disaster risk reduction.

In the past decade, SM Prime has taken great strides in reducing the company’s environmental impact through sustainable designs of its malls, particularly SM Marikina, SM Masinag, SM Muntinlupa and SM Mall of Asia Complex.

“SM Prime takes steps to ensure the longevity of our establishments, and safeguard the communities in which we operate. Partly through prioritizing disaster resilience, SM Prime has managed to both increase profitability and implement an aggressive expansion strategy,” Sy said.

He recalled the experiences of SM Prime when tropical storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” hit in 2009. He cited SM City Marikina and SM City Muntinlupa, two of the company’s 47 malls which were located in high-risk areas. “The safety of the communities, employees, customers and the facility structure remains top priorities in all SM Prime developments. As I tell my design teams ever so frequently, ensuring safety is the only way I can sleep well,” Sy said.

In 2009, typhoon “Ondoy” displaced over 4.8 million people, caused over P11 billion in damages and submerged nearly 50 percent of Marikina. Due to SM Prime’s investments in disaster reduction, SM Marikina averted a loss of almost P1 billion in sales alone and is already giving back more than what had been spent for superior engineering and architectural plans, (Manila Bulletin)