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WDR 2014: Risk and Opportunity

By: Danica Supnet

I was a bit worried to be late for the knowledge sharing forum at the House of Representatives last April 7, 2014; the traffic along Imelda Avenue in Cainta, Rizal was jam-packed and annoying. (Un)luckily the taxi driver rev upped the engine when we were at Commonwealth Avenue until we reach the Congress 15 minutes earlier (12:45 pm) than the scheduled start.

It was very suspicious to see no people at the Nograles Conference Room along the hallway of the South Wing Annex and I’ve been thinking if the forum was cancelled. Only to find out there was a last minute changes in the venue. I had to walk from the south wing annex to the south wing to the north wing just to arrive at the R.V. Mitra building where the forum was moved, thanks to the guard who notified me with the changes and eagerly escorted me to the new location.

These “pre-forum getaways” were both “Risks” and “Opportunities” for me.

Risk and Opportunity: Managing Risk for Development

The knowledge sharing forum was organized by the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Development (CPBRD) of the House of Representatives and the World Bank-Knowledge for Development Center. The forum was attended by various government sectors, individual parties and civil society organizations. Also, the presence of Cong. Sonny Collantes of Batangas 3rd district was recognized.

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The presentation on the World Development Report (WDR) 2014 was initiated by Xubei Luo, Senior Economist of the Independent Evaluation Group Public Sector of the World Bank.

The essence of the WDR 2014 is to highlight an international perspective on the risk an opportunities that stakeholders are currently experiencing through efficient and effective risk management for development. According to Xubei Lou, the report revolves around three important key messages: (1) risk management can be a powerful instrument for development, (2) effective risk management requires shared responsibility and action at the different levels of the society, and (3) individuals and institutions should move from being “crisis fighters” to becoming “risk managers”.

For me, the third key message sums up the whole idea of the WDR 2014. This paradigm shift embarks a change in people’s thinking and behavior from being an unplanned-reactive to a proactive-systematic and integrated risk manager. With record-breaking Yolanda and other episodic disasters, we can no longer measure the scale of what the next disaster will give us. The message conveys that we cannot afford to settle for immediate response as a preemptive measure and as a reactive adaptation that sets the limit of what we can do as immediate response to disaster. On the other hand, we can actually become “risk managers” or a proactive form of adaptation that involves long-term decision making which improves our ability to cope with future climate change that would more likely reduce the long-term damage, risk and vulnerability due to climate change.

But how can we achieve this change in behavior? Xubei Lou emphasized the importance of the second key message. WDR 2014 believes that an individual experience different kinds of risks and often burden with obstacles to manage them (i.e. job loss, disease, natural disaster, crime, financial crises, etc.). The good news is that in order to pursue opportunities for development amidst all, sharing risk with others can overcome these obstacles through collective action. This is the act of shared risk management that individuals should also consider. Shared responsibility makes all members of the society (including the household, community, enterprise sector, financial system, state, and international community) accountable.

In connection with the shared risk management approach, Xubei Lou emphasized the responsibility of financial system and its collaboration with the state. This brought me to ask a question on strengthening climate adaptation finance in the Philippines. She answered my question by stating the responsibility at a national level wherein the government support entity should (1) provide stakeholders social security and (2) support socio-economic system’s initiative. Climate change, Lou added, had different impacts in different outcomes; thus, the government should consider long-term taking on risk management (that are more cost-effective) in order to achieve an ideal development path (related to the third key message). This is the same as through the financial systems on disasters, she further added, and if there are no long terms talking on how a climate finance system is working, there will be no long- term development especially on climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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Perhaps, these are the important notes that I learned from the forum that I can fully relate to our work in iCSC. It is through collaborative work from different sectors, most especially with the government, that would stretch out ideas and action plans to address climate change related

trans-generational risks we are experiencing. Effective risk management is a forward looking thinking that minimizes the “risk” that people are experiencing and pursue for more opportunities for development.

Xubei Lou often end her answers by saying “again, I am speaking from an international perspective and from the report’s perspective, if there are any further questions I encourage you to read (sites a chapter from the book) of the book”. Well, like any other book launching or presentation, the authors would rather leave its audience hanging to let them read (and for others ) their book.

The World Development Report is downloadable from the World Bank resources website.

 

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