“As Turkish Economy Grows, So Does Earthquake Risk on Economy”

September 2, 2019

CBi Turkey releases “SME Resilience: New Risks, New Priorities” on the 20th anniversary of Marmara Earthquake of 17 August 1999

Founded last November by TÜRKONFED and UNDP to prepare enterprises in Turkey against natural disasters including particularly earthquakes, fires, floods, refugee crisis and complex emergencies, CBi Turkey Platform released its report “SME Resilience: New Risks, New Priorities” on the 20th anniversary of Marmara Earthquake of 17 August 1999.

The report underlines that Marmara Earthquake of 17 August 1999 inflicted losses on more than 30,000 enterprises, and caused economic damages of 200 billion TRY at current prices; and that a potential earthquake will likely inflict larger losses on the Turkish economy which has grown in the 20 years since Marmara Earthquake.

Noting that the expectation that the state will come to rescue in times of natural disasters and crises in Turkey leads to a misleading sense of security against the alleviation of risks and building of capacity for own emergency management and recovery, the report argues that “to keep up with the global trends, it will be sounder that the principle of ‘shared responsibility’ be implemented in our country and that corporate managers own and work on the risks.”

The Connecting Business initiative (CBi) Turkey Platform, founded jointly by the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation (TÜRKONFED) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), released its report “SME Resilience: New Risks, New Priorities” on the 20th anniversary of 17 August 1999. Operating under the umbrella structure “Business for Goals (B4G) Platform” founded by TÜRKONFED, TÜSİAD and UNDP and chaired by Ms. Ümit Boyner to enhance the Turkish private sector’s commitment to and compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals, CBi Turkey Platform engages in activities to prepare the business world to changing risk profiles. The report, as the first work of CBi Turkey, underlines that potential risks grew in the past two decades as did the Turkish economy. The report makes a baseline assessment of and provides guidance on solutions to such issues as earthquakes, climate-induced disasters such as floods and instant floods, and refugee crises described as complex emergencies in recent years.

Cost of Marmara Earthquake on the economy: Losses of 200 billion TRY

Based on the views elicited from business leaders, sectoral representatives and member enterprises in the networks of TÜRKONFED and UNDP, the report conducts an analysis of the current state of private sector vis-à-vis the new risks in the new world order, and enumerates strategic priorities and steps for the future. Marmara Earthquake of 17 August 1999 affected the SMEs that made up the backbone of the region and country as well as the large factories. Striking at the heart of the Turkish industry, the quake inflicted losses on more than 30,000 enterprises, and caused economic damages of 200 billion TRY at current prices. The report notes that the works since the Quake of 1999 have concentrated on safety of lives, and there is much to do on the part of enterprises to ensure business sustainability and reduce economic losses. A potential earthquake will likely pose larger risks on the Turkish economy which has grown in the 20 years since Marmara Earthquake.

The private sector should focus on resilience-oriented investments for long-term competitiveness and success

The report argues that in such domains as physical facilities, equipment, workforce, supply chains and utilities where SMEs are particularly most affected, it is critically important for the alleviation of risks of natural disasters on the Turkish economy that enterprises should both step up preparations against potential risks and accelerate the times of recovery in case of occurrence. In Turkey however, state assistance is still expected in cases of natural disasters and crises. The report notes that in order to integrate with national and international supply chains, enterprises no longer focuses merely on own operational resilience, but start to invest in the resilience of own markets and supply chains by co-shouldering with the government the burden of increasing urban climate resilience, and argues that “it will be sounder that such perception should change in Turkey, and all stakeholders including particularly the private sector should own and work on the risks. Resilience-oriented investments and strategic partnerships are the key to long-term competitiveness and success. In that context, it is one of the most important priorities that the resilience perception of the private sector should evolve towards shared responsibility.”

Ms. Ümit Boyner: “Global problems call for original solutions and cooperation”

Ms. Ümit Boyner, President of the Executive Board of Business for Goals Turkey, indicated that increasing the resilience of enterprises against potential disasters and crises were globally addressed by the United Nations and countries as an increasingly important issue in their agendas and development plans, and that natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, and climate change had recently been included as the most important threat to development in the World Economic Forum reports. Noting that growing drought and extreme weather induced particularly by climate change caused significant increases in human and economic losses, Ms. Boyner said:

“We still feel the grief brought on by the Earthquake of 17 August when we lost thousands of our fellow citizens 20 years ago. Natural disasters not only hit our physical infrastructure and economy, but also cause significant human and social traumas. The report drafted by CBi Turkey mainly aims to provide guidance to enterprises and private sector to develop strategies to alleviate the human, social and economic impacts of such traumas, and share responsibilities among themselves. In today’s world, inclusive multi-stakeholder collaboration networks and initiatives come into action for the Sustainable Development Goals because global problems call for original solutions through multi-stakeholder cooperation networks.”

Mr. Orhan Turan: “Fast recovery after crises depend on SME resilience”

Noting that the report provides a clear picture that a most important factor that enables fast recovery following a natural disaster is the resilience of economy, Mr. Orhan Turan, President of the Executive Board of TÜRKONFED, said: “We already know that work by enterprises on disaster resilience is limited. It is estimated that approximately 30 percent of SMEs have insurance. The rate of having emergency action plan or conducting regular risk assessment is further lower. The economic scale of earthquake risk is increasing in the face of rapid urbanisation of the last two decades. Our economy not only grew, but also became urban. The enterprise density in Kocaeli at the time of Marmara Earthquake of 1999 now prevails in many cities located in earthquake zones. Eighty percent of our population and 83 percent of our Gross National Product are concentrated in 30 large cities. Therefore, it is more important than ever to increase SME resilience, alleviate risks in case of a potential disaster or crisis, and enable rapid economic recovery. As TÜRKONFED, we will continue to prepare SMEs against global risks, and raise awareness to ensure that they create opportunities to develop new products and services out of such risks.”

Claudio Tomasi: “Private sector is one of the key actors of a resilient society.”

Stating that an important dimension of the activities they support as UNDP Turkey is to ensure that economic, environmental and social systems are resilient to the changing risk profile and to produce new solutions, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Turkey Resident Representative a.i. Claudio Tomasi stressed that being resilient is one of the main features of both sustainability and competitiveness.

Emphasising that the private sector is one of the key actors of a resilient society Tomasi said, “Recent years has shown that Turkey has both a dynamic economy and a quickly evolving risk profile. This report explores how private sector has been affected by risks in the recent past and shares future insights, and seeks ways to create a more resilient economy. Although earthquake and fire are contemplated to be the most significant risks, disasters and the changes in risk profiles due to global climate change as well as regional events like Syrian Crisis have increasing effects on Turkey. A rapidly changing world will inevitably impact Turkey's economy. Since it is impossible to predict this change, private sector and cities that grow with it need to develop new management approaches, partnerships and solutions to implementation.”

Stating that the aim of the report is to draw an initial road map for CBi Turkey platform, established in partnership of TÜRKONFED and UNDP, Tomasi said, “I wish that the road map presented here brings together all stakeholders, and hope that the suggestions will contribute to Turkey's competitiveness, economy, industrial and regional development.”