IFC-led resilience program draws developers’ support


A MILLION square meters (sqm) of local building space in the Philippines will be set aside by real estate developers for construction or retrofitting to make structures more resilient to natural hazards, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The private sector arm of the World Bank Group said on Tuesday that the building space will be pledged by the country’s leading real estate developers through the IFC’s Building Resilience Commitment campaign.

The campaign is a call to action to the Philippines’s real estate sector to improve the resilience of buildings and cities. Initial commitments have been made by Imperial Homes Corporation, NEO, and SM Group which will set aside a combined 500,000 sqm of building space.

“The safety, habitability, and financial performance of buildings in the Philippines is being severely impacted by the increasing frequency and severity of climate-related events, causing significant setbacks in efforts to promote shared prosperity in the country and reversing development gains,” said Ommid Saberi, Global Lead and Product Manager, Building Resilience Index at IFC.

“Some of the worst natural hazards on record have added fresh impetus for calls to accelerate efforts to transition to a greener, resilient, and more inclusive Philippines,” Jean-Marc Arbogast, Country Manager for the Philippines at IFC, said in a statement.

“This is a huge opportunity for the real estate sector, whose efforts to build stronger and more sustainable buildings will not only save money in the long run, but also lives,” he said.

IFC said the remaining 500,000 sqm will be pledged in the second half of the year.

The planned and existing projects pledged as part of the campaign will be assessed for resilience using the Building Resilience Index (BRI), an online hazard mapping and resilience assessment tool currently under development by IFC.

It evaluates location-specific, climate-related risks across water, wind, fire, and geoseismic hazard categories for real estate projects and portfolios and assesses the resilience measures that have been implemented. A roadmap to improve these projects’ resilience will then be developed.

The BRI is currently in the pilot phase and the Philippines was selected as the pilot country late last year. Developers including Imperial Homes, NEO, and SM agreed to participate in the pilot scheme.

IFC said they are currently using a beta version of the tool to help build resilience into eight projects spanning the residential, office, retail, educational, and hospitality sectors.

“We are excited to partner with leading developers, investors, and policymakers to help us advance one of the most critical agendas of our time.”

The signatories of the Building Resilience Commitment commit to three principal areas of action:

1. For developers (public and private): By 2022, to assess the resilience of public/private buildings in a portfolio and develop a roadmap for implementation to improve their resilience rating using the Building Resilience Index.

2. For investors (including banks): By 2022, to integrate disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and resilience in real estate investment decisions using the Building Resilience Index.

3. For policymakers (including local government units): By 2022, to formulate policies and develop a roadmap for implementation to reward improvements in building resilience above code compliance using the Building Resilience Index.

Since 1962, IFC has invested more than USD5.5 billion—of which over USD3.5 billion was invested from its own account—in around 160 projects in the Philippines.

Strategic priorities in the country include reducing the impacts of climate change, deepening financial inclusion, promoting sustainable infrastructure, and strengthening the capacity of the private sector.

The IFC believes that such projects will better support the Philippines throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and help drive inclusive growth during the eventual recovery.

The BRI was developed using seed funding from the government of the Netherlands and implemented in the Philippines with support from the government of Australia.

This was created in cooperation with ARISE Philippines, a private sector alliance for disaster-resilient societies led by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Philippines has recorded the fourth-highest number of disaster events linked to natural hazards globally in the last 20 years and is considered one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.

Recent cyclones and the resulting floods—the worst the country has seen in almost half a century—have also exacerbated the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in significant damage to buildings, businesses, and livelihoods.

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