“Disaster Resilience in ASEAN—Now and Beyond” was the theme of the ASEAN Disaster Management Week (ADMW) held on 21-24 August 2023 in Singapore.
The ADMW gathered over 250 participants from the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management, members of the ASEAN Disaster Resilience Platform, ASEAN external partners, regional organisations, UN agencies, multilateral financial institutions, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, international NGOs, academia, philanthropic organisations, and the private sector.
A series of events were held during the ADMW: (i) One ASEAN, One Response Roadshow, for Singapore stakeholders only, (ii) ASEAN Interregional Dialogue on Disaster Resilience (AIDDR), (iii) 1st ASEAN Disaster Resilience Forum (ADRF), (iv) Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the ACDM, and (v) ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue on Disaster Management (SPDDM).
The ADMW was co-organised by the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Viet Nam Disaster and Dyke Management Agency (VDDMA), as the Chair of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre).
The week-long event received crucial support from the European Union through the Integrated Programme in Enhancing the Capacity of AHA Centre and ASEAN Emergency Response Mechanisms (EU-SAHA), the Government of Switzerland through the AHA Centre and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) Project Phase II, the Asian Development Bank through the Knowledge and Support Technical Assistance (KSTA) Project, and Temasek Foundation.
One ASEAN, One Response Roadshow, 21 August 2023
The roadshow familiarised the participants with ASEAN disaster regional mechanisms, including the vision, “One ASEAN, One Response,” and built a better understanding on their expected contribution in the ASEAN disaster management and ASEAN joint response to disasters in and outside the region.
At the roadshow, SCDF delivered a presentation on Singapore’s National Disaster Management Response Mechanism, which explained Singapore’s preparedness against the hazards and threats, available capacities, agencies responsible in providing resources and assistance, and SCDF’s roles in disaster management mechanism at regional and international level.
The ASEAN Secretariat presented the institutional structure of the ASEAN disaster management sector, including the role of the Secretary-General of ASEAN as the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator (SG-AHAC); the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management, key declarations and other guiding documents relevant to disaster management; and the AADMER Work Programme 2021-2025.
The AHA Centre briefed the participants on various operational tools and mechanisms of ASEAN response mechanism, including the Standard Operating Procedure for Regional Standby Arrangements and Coordination of Joint Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Operations (SASOP), the ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan, the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA), and some examples of AHA Centre’s past responses.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) briefed the participants on cooperation and activities between the AHA Centre and UN agencies during emergency response through the joint interoperability mechanism, including collaboration between the ASEAN-Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) and United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC).
1st ASEAN Disaster Resilience Forum (ADRF), 22-23 August 2023
The ADRF is a newly established forum, which serves as a biennial forum for ASEAN and ASEAN partners and friends to increase awareness and sharing of multi-sectoral and transdisciplinary scientific findings, technologies, innovation and experiences; expedite science-policy dialogue for promoting scientific and technical research programmes and other initiatives; and enhance the profile of ASEAN as a regional thought-leader in natural disaster management.
The inaugural ADRF was held with the theme, “Mobilising ASEAN and Its Partners on the Journey towards Building a Disaster Resilient ASEAN Community.”
The first ADRF aims to invoke discussion on a “whole of ASEAN” approach towards a disaster-resilient ASEAN Community and the importance of ASEAN partners in this endeavour.
Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the ACDM, 24 August 2023
The commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the ACDM was opened by the congratulatory remarks by Pham Duc Luan, Director-General of VDDMA, the ACDM Chair, followed a video showcasing the ACDM’s contribution to the significant progress and achievement in the two-decade journey of disaster management in the region, and the launching of the commemoration. Former Secretary- Generals of ASEAN, Ambassador Ong Keng Yong and Dato Lim Jock Hoi, along with the ACDM champions, attended the commemoration.
ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue on Disaster Management (SPDDM), 24 August 2023
The SPDDM 2023, was held under the theme “Disaster Resilience: Investing Today for a Sustainable Region,” to discuss forward-looking ideas to enhance disaster resilience in the future with an emphasis on the importance of acting and investing now.
In session 1, a keynote discussion centred around the theme of “Building Resilience to Climate- Induced Disasters.” Professor Winston Chow from Singapore Management University and Mr. Tiziana Bonapace of UNESCAP shared their perspectives and views on challenges to align climate change adaptation and disaster risk management, strategic priorities in the region to invest in disaster resilience, and experiences from other regions.
During session 2 of the High-Level Panel Discussion on Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Communication and Early Action for Proactive Disaster Management, the speakers from the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) of Thailand, Japan Bosai Forum, and Singapore Red Cross shared their respective organisation’s experience in implementing anticipatory action and disaster risk communication. They also exchanged views on the role ASEAN can play to strengthen disaster resilience and efforts to build back better. There were discussions on how to forge new partnerships in adopting early warning systems and other anticipatory actions.
Session 3 featured a Thematic Session on Risk Governance and Innovative Technology in Disaster Management, the speakers from the Philippines Disaster Resilience Foundation, ESRI Malaysia, Atma Connect, and Disaster Analytics for Society Lab highlighted new technological advances that will impact disaster resilience, including Artificial Intelligence and big data; the role of partnerships in the development or adoption of new technologies in disaster management; the barriers to adopting new technologies in disaster management; ways to address the challenges regarding a significant digital divide and insufficient attention given to the negative implications of new technologies; and how to promote ‘Technology for Good’.
The conduct of the ASEAN Disaster Management Week marks an important milestone in ASEAN’s efforts in promoting a whole-of-ASEAN approach as well as further engaging ASEAN partners, friends and wider stakeholders to exchange views and deliberate on ways and means and explore their potential contributions to further building disaster resilience in the region. The event showcased ASEAN’s keen interest in championing the exchange of knowledge and experience among regional organisations in Asia Pacific and promoting inter-regional collaboration to enhance capacities in addressing transboundary risks, in line with ASEAN’s aspiration to be a global leader in disaster management based on the ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management.