Criminality, corruption and lack of integrity in high and low places are perhaps the biggest threats to business continuity in the aftermath of a natural disaster, a University of the West Indies senior official said today.
The UWI’s acting Deputy Principal of the Open Campus Dr Francis Severin expressed the view as a Post-Disaster Business Continuity Management (BCM) workshop, hosted by the Open Campus and the Organisation of American States (OAS), opened at the Open Campus in The Pine.
He said that looting and the incompetence of some security forces who seem more energetic in crushing legitimate, democratic demonstrations in normal times than protecting business property from looters, were other major threats to post-disaster business continuity.
Looting proved to be a headache for authorities in Dr Severin’s homeland, Dominica, he said, when Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September 2017.
“Having said all of this ladies and gentlemen, and notwithstanding the best technical training in the world in BCM, I am constrained from a public-spirited, advocacy and activist perspective to say to you the following: We will never be successful in returning our businesses or indeed our countries to normality post-hazard if there is no general commitment, championed by our respective Governments, to integrity, honesty, justice, equity and democratic principles.
“Both within our organisations and in our wider societies, if decisions on how relief shall be deployed or distributed, or who shall be the recipients, are based on political clientelism, favouritism, exploitation, prejudice, victimization and other forms of discrimination, and corruption.
“Then we would have introduced systematic and endemic failure into the processes and outcomes. Our Governments must set the culture and tradition of moral and professional hygiene in that regard. I challenge the experts to posit otherwise.”
The role of BCM was to provide the organisation with the ability to effectively respond to threats, emergencies and hazards, such as disasters or data breaches and protect the business interest of the organisation and its internal and external customers, Dr Severin said.
At the end of the four-day workshop, participants are expected to be able to, among other things, understand the requirements for the development of a business continuity plan, identify, analyse and address an organisation’s risks, in addition to determining likely crisis scenarios and how these would impact operationally and financially on the organisation, according to the organisers.
Participants are to expose to all the agreed procedures for crisis management, emergency response, damage assessment, safety of staff, evacuation, trauma management, technical recovery and crisis communication; and how to ensure these are documented and updated continuously, they added.
The OAS envoy to Barbados, Francis Anthony McBarnette, said that it was increasingly critical for the Caribbean to build small and medium enterprises to prepare and execute business continuity plans capable to cope with disasters.
McBarnette said it was necessary that the plans address supply chains dynamics and interdependence among an array of stakeholders, including communication networks, energy generation and water supply.
The OAS diplomat also noted that the resilience of industries such as tourism and agriculture, which are major suppliers of foreign exchange earnings, jobs, and development, must be central to these discussions.
He said: “In the case of the Caribbean, and based on the work undertaken in 2016 in collaboration with CDEMA, there is an emerging consensus on the value added of the Inter-American Convention to Facilitate Disaster Assistance.
“This Convention has the potential to expand the reach of regional agreements and instruments under CDEMA, and to facilitate the coordination of assistance to Member States and OAS Permanent Observers.
“There have been discussions also in the councils of the OAS on the need to review the statutes of the Inter-American Committee to better focus its mission and to incorporate sub regional institutions, such as CDEMA. We are anxious to further this work in the very near future.”