The private sector is a natural partner in disaster preparedness. In addition to being a tremendous source of relevant skills and resources, private sector firms are also a stakeholder in much of the decision-making on risk that takes place in our communities. While it is important to ensure that public investment is disaster risk-sensitive, it is equally important to encourage disaster risk-sensitive approaches in the private sector investment as well.
What do I need to know?
Traditionally there are three primary avenues for private sector engagement:
- business continuity
- corporate social responsibility
- market opportunity
Business continuity is the protection of the people, assets, and facilities of a firm in order to ensure that the firm is not affected by disaster events and can continue to function before, during, and after disaster events. People includes both the employees of the firm but also the wider communities in which the employees live, in which the firms facilities are located, and where the firm's customers live. Impacts on any of these communities can have a significant impact on the operations of the firm. Similarly the assets and supply chains of the firm must be protected along with the value chain that ensures that the firms products or services make it to market. In this context the business continuity of individual firms in intrinsically linked to their surrounding communities, and there is usually a mutual dependency that links both the firm's and the community's interests in resilience.
Corporate social responsibility captures the philanthropy interests of the private sector and can be an important factor in motivating private-public partnerships and guiding private sector investments in social goods.
Finally investment in disaster preparedness can also be a market opportunity for firms that are adaptive enough to identify and produce goods and services that promote community preparedness and resilience. Often there is an opporutnity fo shared value approaches between NGOs and the private sector firms to partner in the development of socially oriented services or enterprises. This is an emerging area of interest form many organizations and firms alike.