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Sri Lanka Aitken Spence embeds disaster risk in corporate strategy

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Aitken Spence conglomerate has embedded disaster risk mitigation initiatives in its corporate strategy across the entire group, helping reduce losses caused by the increasing incidence of disasters, a senior official said.

Rohan Fernando, director of Aitken Spence, said the diversified firm faces a range of disasters from tsunamis to landslides and fire.

The group’s plantations, for instance, were affected by drought at one end and floods at the other, along with climate change, fire and landslide risks, he told a forum on disaster risk reduction.

“We developed strategies for every one of them,” Fernando said. “For example, none of our estates so far have been affected by serious landslides because of timely intervention and collaboration with NBRO (National Building Research Organisation).

“We have educated all our workers and identified landslide prone areas,” he told the international symposium on why investing in disaster risk reduction matters for business organised by the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management Sri Lanka (A-PAD SL).

“We also evacuated employees from these areas and educated them. One of the biggest problems is lack of education – people don’t want to move as they’ve been in these areas for a long time.”

Fernando said the Aitken Spence group head office has a disaster recovery plan and business continuity plan and trained staff to cope with disasters.

It has a data base of almost every employee with blood groups and other information needed if a disaster strikes, he added.

“All areas of disaster risk are embedded into our corporate strategy with the main emphasis being business continuity,” he said.
The group works closely with the NBRO in protecting its hill country hotels which are vulnerable to land slides, Fernando said.

“The cornerstone of our business is corporate sustainability. We use sustainability as a strategic of differentiator.”
(COLOMBO, Nov 10, 2016)





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