Resilience for All: 2019 Mexico ARISE Forum

“Every disaster is a step back in development,” said Mami Mizutori, Assistant Secretary General for the United Nation’s Office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). I had the opportunity to share the stage with Ms. Mizutori at the inaugural Mexico ARISE forum held on October 29 and 30 in Mexico City. “Resiliencia Para Todos (Resilience For All)” was the theme for the forum, which convened 400 attendees from Mexico, Latin America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Global agendas—Sendai Framework (UNDRR), Climate Change Adaptation (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals—are providing guidance and metrics for governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations to achieve a better and more sustainable world. The topic of our opening plenary panel was to discuss the alignments between these goals and how the private sector engages with each of them. 

Mami Mizutori’s opening remarks for the panel included, “[the] Global agendas must work collaboratively and cohesively with risk in the center.” Here are some of the key takeaways from the plenary panel I joined—which also included AECOM, AXA, and Euroclima—as well as presentations throughout the conference:

  • As individuals and companies, we can feel disconnected from the global agendas and goals, but in reality they each affect our daily lives. It is our responsibility to be aware of the goals and their impact; understand how to be an agent for change; generate value beyond oneself; and apply our expertise toward achieving the goals. 
  • Resilience requires a community-wide approach. There are specific goals directed towards climate change and disaster preparedness, but education, food security, health, and eradicating poverty all play into a community’s ability to bounce back after a shock.
  • Risk exposure needs to become a priority for governments and the private sector, and companies must understand how they can better assess climate and disaster risks. The private sector is not immune to climate changes and impacts of disasters. 
  • On average, the private sector provides 75% of the investments in communities globally. If new investments do not take risk assessments into account, then we are creating new risks. Risks are a result of the decisions we make.
  • Several speakers throughout the conference referenced that building in resilience creates a competitive advantage—not only for companies but also for governments and communities.  

It’s been reported that there are more than 60 definitions of resilience, but regardless of the terminology, “Resilience For All” needs to be prioritized and put into action. In the last 20 years, the Americas have sustained 53% of the global economic impact from disasters. That’s why it so important for the private sector to engage and be part of these events and coalitions. It takes everyone’s participation to see the global agendas achieved.