Recently I travelled to Mongolia, to the capital city Ulaanbaatar, to address a seminar on private strategies for disaster resilience mitigation of small to medium enterprises in Mongolia. This seminar was sponsored by the United Nations Office for Disaster Relief Reduction and the International Labour Organisation, with the support of MONEF – Mongolia’s Employers’ Federation.
These agencies were well aware of what had happened in Christchurch and how important the lessons we learnt in Christchurch were from a perspective of optimising business survival. It was a real privilege to be able to appear before a group of interested Mongolian businesses and tell them some of the stories that might have application to the Mongolian community in the event of a calamity.
Mongolia is vulnerable to multiple hazards including storms, floods, blizzards, heavy snow falls, wild fire and droughts. Between 1990 and 2016 Mongolia was hit by 21 disasters that resulted in economic damages totalling almost US $2 billion effecting 4.2 million people.
As the 18th largest country in the world by area with a relatively small population of 3 million people, Mongolia is positioning itself for its future in the context of increased risks from natural disasters. The meeting identified the needs and challenges that SMEs experience before, during and after disasters and from my presentation the learnings that came out of the Christchurch earthquake experience.
The attendees came away with an improved understanding of SME disaster risk protection and increased awareness of the potential opportunities for collaboration to improve disaster mitigation and a better understanding of the practical risk management tools tailored specifically for the business community.
We should never under estimate how important the lessons we have learned in Christchurch are and how relatively well our business community has done in the context of unprecedented natural calamity. There is much to be learned and much to be gained through sharing.
I was grateful to be sponsored to Mongolia which is a fascinating country full of opportunity and challenge. We have played a small part in making them better prepared for the inevitability of significant further natural disasters.