Disaster Risk Reduction: An Interview with Martha Herrera, ARISE Mexico

Connecting Business initiative Secretariat • 9 October 2020
Blog in group Mexico

In the context of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on October 13, we invited CBi Member Networks to share why disaster risk reduction (DRR) matters now more than ever and why it is relevant for the private sector to engage. Below is the interview with Martha Herrera, President, ARISE Mexico and Vice-Chair, ARISE UNDDR and member of CENACED, the CBi Member Network in Mexico. 


The main driver for the private sector's involvement in disaster risk reduction is the protection of the people and of business integrity, including the value chain. Apart from this, the private sector is the main source of innovation and investment for infrastructure changes that need to be conducted in order to establish a better future for all.  

The private sector participates in Mexico's disaster risk governance through the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies, ARISE. With its allies – like CENACED in Mexico among others, ARISE works together to promote a coordinated action concerning prevention, preparation, response and mitigation.  

Disaster risk reduction is imperative in a world exposed to climate change and as such is set as a priority by the United Nations (UN) for 2030.  

Uncertainty will be the new norm if we don't limit our negative impact. Now more than ever, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are talking about adapting, preparing and changing, which is key to understanding and boosting resilience and properly managing our risk. 

We need to continue learning to deal with ambiguity and be prepared to prevent human loss above all. ARISE Mexico works to increase the capacity and resilience through training and tools that support businesses of all sizes to plan for local risk and recover in case of disasters.  CENACED also supports the private sector with courses for the elaboration of business continuity plans as well as emergency preparedness activities and services such as psychological assistance, temporary infrastructure for health, first aid assistance, and support for the most vulnerable communities.  

For the International Day for DRR, ARISE Mexico has developed a series of eight videos about the four priority areas mandated by UNDRR to the private sector:  

  1. Long-term resilience for small and medium enterprises (SMEs),  

  1. Integrating disaster risk into financial sector investment decisions,  

  1. Encouraging DRR through the insurance sector, and  

  1. Ensuring that the development of new infrastructure and the upgrading of existing infrastructure takes disasters into consideration.   

Each video shares experiences and ideas of different ARISE Mexico members and will be shared from October 7-27 through the ARISE Mexico social networks as well as that of ARISE Mexico members and allies including UNDRR.  

With these actions, we do not only try to enhance the capacity of the private sector to face or cope with disasters, but we also aim to build resilient and prepared communities.  

Today, disaster risk reduction is at the core of enterprise risk management and in some cases at the core of the business strategy of delivering solutions to prevent disasters.  

ARISE Mexico continuously collaborates with its members, multisectoral committees and partner to create appropriate insurance schemes to train SMEs on resilience. In addition, the network works with the public sector to further engage with multiple stakeholders to promote widespread knowledge of disaster risk reduction. We also developed disaster recovery programs with a focus on “coast efficient” infrastructure.  

Recently, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we mobilized our networks to create the resilience protocol for SMEs which was shared by our partner, the Chambers of Commerce in Mexico. We also led webinars to enhance businesses’ resilience to any disruption of business as usual.  

On this International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction, we are confident that we will continue raising awareness to prevent any loss, either material but most importantly, of human lives.  

The union and collaboration with peers locally and around the world are our best tools to face any challenge. Let's keep cooperating and collaborating to ensure that we develop a resilient culture in each of our communities.  

Martha Herrera is the Global Director for Social impact at Cemex, a global construction materials company, proudly Mexican, with operations in 50 countries and committed to the purpose of building a better future. She also serves as President for ARISE Mexico and Vice-Chair of ARISE UNDDR alongside Mami Mizutori, Head of the United Nations office for Disasters Risk Reduction. 

Photo credit: OCHA/Juan Pablo O'Farrill