A- A+


World respected planning guru to speak at SA Wildfire Conference

Mon, 7th February '11


Renowned South African strategist, visionary and author Clem Sunter will deliver the keynote address at the Wildfire 2011 conference to be held at Sun City South Africa in May.


Sunter will discuss  how to plan for and manage the risk of catastrophes such as runaway wildfires. The conference is the hottest event on the international firefighting calendar. The theme is "Living with Fire – Addressing Global Change through Integrated Fire Management”.


Sunter’s talk on “A Model for Catastrophic Risk Management” will outline how local governments and other organisations have previously responded to catastrophes with varying degrees of success, and a methodology for preparing for and coping with disasters.


This is highly pertinent in an era in which the climate is changing fast and natural disasters occur frequently, recent examples having included the flooding of the Orange River in South Africa and runaway fires in California and Australia, as well as flooding and, more recently, Cyclone Yasi, in Australia.


Sunter’s methodology includes identifying all potentially catastrophic events; plotting these on a matrix to show their seriousness and probability; identifying all organisations with relevant roles to perform should a disaster strike, and practicing pre-event and post-event drills, having undergone a cost-benefit analysis of each drill. He will explain these steps in detail at the conference.  

It is essential that local authorities forge good relationships with weather experts, so that information on potentially catastrophic weather conditions is shared constantly, Sunter says. However, it is not only local governments who have failed in this regard. Few companies, even among top multinationals, practice catastrophe risk management.

“Ever since Chantell Ilbury and I wrote The Mind of a Fox nearly 10 years ago, we have constantly advocated that you cannot just play scenarios; you have to consider the options for action available to you and select the best ones in advance,” Sunter says. “Your response in the event that a scenario materialises is likely to be more swift and effective than action taken in the heat of the moment.”

Sunter was chairman and CEO of the Gold and Uranium Division of Anglo American Corporation for years when it was the world’s largest gold producer. He is renowned for his scenario planning, which described two possible roads for South African in the 1980s, one leading to a negotiated political settlement to end the apartheid era and the other a civil war.

He gave a presentation to then-president FW De Klerk and the South African Cabinet in 1986, and visited Nelson Mandela in prison to discuss the future before his release. He was recently awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Cape Town for his scenario planning, and was also voted by leading South African CEOs as the speaker who has made the most significant contribution to business in South Africa.

Until recently, Sunter was chairman of the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund, rated the premier corporate social responsibility fund in South Africa. Since 1987, he has authorised 14 books, some of them bestsellers, and has been mobilising the private sector in the war against HIV/Aids.

Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd on behalf of Wildfire 2011
For more information please call:
Evelyn John Holtzhausen, on +27-(0) 82 658 6007
E-mail: evelyn@hwb.co.za

Jo-Anne Smetherham
HWB Communications
084 254 1616
021 462 0416