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Bechtel’s Impact Report

Leveraging the Human Factor to Manage Extreme Weather Events

  • By
    portrait of Tam Nguyen
    Tam Nguyen, General Manager,
  • 11 July 2018

As part of Bechtel’s commitment to contribute 100 ideas to support the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we share insights on leveraging the “human factor” to improve resilience from extreme weather events. These insights are based on a joint IBM-Bechtel field project Puerto Rico.

SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

SDG Target 11.b: By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels.


With the 2018 hurricane season underway, Bechtel and IBM have partnered up to share lessons learned from last year’s devastating Category 5 storm in Puerto Rico and mapping their work to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The two corporations’ commitment to improving long-term recovery from natural disasters led to the Disaster Resiliency Webinar, hosted by 3BL Media.

disaster resiliency

The hour-long webinar took place Wednesday, July 11, 2018, and provided an overview of corporate responsibility and sustainability strategies at Bechtel and IBM, discussed the IBM grant used in Puerto Rico, offered perspectives on efforts to grow resiliency in education systems, and shared benefits of cross-industry collaboration between the two organizations.

Bechtel’s Bruce A. Colvin, Ph.D. was one of the webinar’s presenters and focused on his supplemental recommendations for Puerto Rico’s emergency preparedness plan. His key recommendation for the community is to rely on the human factor of the plan first; meaning utilize local authority figures to establish organizational structure, specifically for both a proactive and reactive approach to the storm. Additionally, Dr. Colvin discussed the need for a holistic management system approach to resiliency and emergency management, rather than a piecemeal approach. Each region within the island should have its own plan with a clear schedule and roles and responsibilities identified for a streamlined recovery.

In addition to Dr. Colvin, the webinar also includes, Rebecca E. Curzon, Senior Program Manager, Global Citizenship Initiatives, IBM Corporate Citizenship; and Dr. Julia Keleher, Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Education. Dave Armon, CMO of 3BL Media, moderated the webcast.

Click here to watch the complete webinar.

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