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Experts urge businesses to mitigate environmental risks

Filipino environmental experts called on businesses to adopt more comprehensive risk management plans and check environmental risks in their place of business to avoid disasters in the future.

This urgent call to the business sector was made during the Sustainable Development Finance (SDF) Webinar on Natural Disaster Resilience organized by the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). The activity highlighted the need for companies, big and small, to rethink risk management frameworks and make them part of the overall business strategy.

DOST Undersecretary and Officer-in-Charge of Phivolcs, Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., hoped to put the spotlight on the environmental risks that businesses in the country are facing by highlighting the “Climate and environmental risk exposures of the Philippines and how to identify and mitigate risks.”

For his part, Engr. Ed Tongson of the World Wide Fund (WWF) discussed how risks are changing, how businesses can adapt to earthquake and the range of technologies available.  He also discussed how cost-benefit analysis can help owners decide on solutions.

Dr. Solidum and Engr. Tongson both recognized the fact that doing business in the Philippines entails inherent and natural risks as the country sits in the Pacific Ring of Fire, aside from being tied to the Typhoon Belt.

Phivolcs records an average of 20 earthquakes daily, alongside other environmental threats such as typhoons that have increased in frequency and intensity due to climate change, flooding, and volcanic eruptions.

With this, Dr. Solidum and Engr. Tongson explained the need for tools to identify and measure risk exposures. One of the tools they recommend is the Hazard Hunter application, which can help identify and measure the effects of possible natural disasters.

Engr. Tongson also advised businesses to have their buildings assessed and to explore the added protection of financing their risks. “Financing your risk is a partnership between you, your bank and your insurance company. Our advice is for insurance to cover replacement costs for your peace of mind,” he said.

Resiliency and Sustainability

BPI Corporate Credit Products Group Head Roland Gerard Veloso, Jr., said businesses should also adapt to these risks to become more resilient.

“We encourage businesses to take the critical steps needed to create a more resilient business, to be able to adapt to the times and pivot when the situation calls for it. This is the key to sustainability. Climate resilience and preparedness are important for most industries as these will help them realize the interventions they need to manage risks,” Veloso said.

BPI is the first bank in the Philippines to have engaged in climate and environmental risk preparedness initiatives. It has a dedicated Sustainable Development Finance (SDF) team aimed at helping clients protect their businesses, making them resilient and sustainable.

In addition to helping businesses become more resilient, BPI’s SDF portfolio has reported a total of 355 projects financed, with P 190.9 billion in cumulative availed loans as of December 2020. Of this number, 158 were energy efficiency projects, 89 were renewable projects, and 108 were climate resilience projects. From 2008 to 2020, its total greenhouse gas reduction reached a total of 28.6 million tons of carbon, equivalent to growing 472 million trees.

This initiative supports the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) Circular No. 1085 (“Sustainable Finance Framework”), which is a policy framework on sustainable finance that covers banks’ sustainability principles on environmental and social (E&S) risk areas, corporate governance, and risk management.

With SDF, BPI has consolidated its financing activities for renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate resilience, and agriculture in response to the increasing need for creating sustainable businesses across all industries.

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