BANGKOK, 19 November 2019 - In the face of growing
disaster losses and risk in the Asia-Pacific region,
government disaster risk management agencies,
international organizations, and civil society
groups met in the Australian city of Brisbane last week,
to agree on priorities for accelerating action for
reducing the risk of disasters.
On 12 and 13 November, the UN Office for Disaster
Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and the Government of Australia
co-hosted the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Disaster
Risk Reduction Forum, which brought together 120
representatives, including a significant delegation
of Pacific island representatives.
Nearly five years into the adoption of the Sendai
Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Forum
met in a year that has witnessed a number of
disasters in the Asia-Pacific region and across Australia.
From destructive weather events such as Typhoon
Hagibis and Cyclone Fani, which respectively
caused billions of US dollars in Japan and India,
to the re-emergence of a debilitating months-long
drought in Cambodia that threatened the food
security and livelihoods of millions. The region
is feeling the impact of disasters more than
any region in the world.
Participating governments and stakeholders discussed
how to accelerate progress on reducing the risk
of disasters by leveraging the upcoming Asia-Pacific
Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction
(APMCDRR), to be hosted by the Government of Australia
and UNDRR next year in Brisbane.
“Australia shares common challenges with our partners
across the region, especially our rural, remote,
urban and coastal communities. So we are strongly
committed to working with countries in the Asia-Pacific
region to improve resilience to disasters, to protect
our people and assets, and lock in development gains,”
said Mr. Paul Kelly, Assistant Secretary of the
Humanitarian Response, Risk and Recovery Branch
at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Australia is spearheading through a Partnership Framework
with UNDRR several capacity building initiatives in Asia
and the Pacific. Moreover, it seeks to share its wealth
of experience in the areas of managing disaster risk and
building community resilience with its regional partners.
The Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA), which is
based in Brisbane, is currently leading the recovery for
a series of devastating bushfires in the state of Queensland.
Bushfires are also impacting New South Wales and Western Australia.
The QRA has welcomed the upcoming conference as an opportunity
for mutually beneficial exchanges. “We are not only dealing
with the effects of climate change and multiple disasters,
but we are also using those disasters, and the recovery
from those disasters, as a springboard to more resilient
communities,” said Mr. Brendan Moon, CEO of the QRA,
adding that “the gathering of partners in the Asia-Pacific
region provides a real opportunity, not only to share our
experiences, but also learn from many of those who have
been impacted by significant events.”
As the lead UN agency for disaster risk reduction, UNDRR
called on countries in the region to take bold actions
towards local, inclusive, and climate-sensitive disaster risk reduction.
“We have to seize the opportunities that are out there
and build on the momentum and publicdemands for action,”
said Ms. Loretta Hieber Girardet, Chief of UNDRR in
Asia-Pacific, noting that the momentum on climate
action and the wave of new investments in infrastructure
provide opportunities to ensure that development is
informed by disaster and climate risks.
The two-day Forum resulted in a set of priorities that
can help all countries accelerate their national and
local efforts. These priorities included garnering
greater investment in disaster resilience by governments
and businesses, ensuring we are building resilient
infrastructure and using science and technology to create solutions.
These priorities will be central elements of the 2020
APMCDRR. Participants at last week’s forum agreed that
a sense of urgency is needed to increase investment in
prevention to get ahead of hazards before they become
disasters. Moreover, the region’s accumulated experiences
and innovations can be harnessed through better knowledge sharing.
The principle of leaving no one behind will be integrated
throughout all elements of the conference. Supporting
local action for the creation of location-specific solutions,
empowering and protecting the most vulnerable, especially
women, children, persons with disabilities and indigenous
populations, will be highlighted in a range of dynamic ways
throughout the conference. Addressing the unique needs of
island, coastal and remote communities, will also be a priority issue.
The APMCDRR is the largest ministerial gathering in the region
focused on preventing disasters and building resilience.
It will be hosted in June 2020 in the city of Brisbane,
the capital of Australia’s state of Queensland. The o
utcomes of the APMCDRR will include a political declaration
by the UN Member States, the launch of a two-year regional
action plan, and implementation commitments from stakeholders
in the region.
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional
Office for Asia and Pacific (UNDRR AP),
Provided by the IKCEST Disaster Risk Reduction Knowledge Service System