ASEAN in the Driver’s Seat on Disaster Management post-2015

 

ASEAN, home to more than 600 million people, is one of the most disaster prone regions in the world. The region has been facing typhoons, flooding, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, all of which threaten the development gains that ASEAN has achieved. Typhoon Haiyan (or locally named Yolanda) less than a year ago was a stark reminder of how a disaster can cause widespread devastation and has shown the importance of being resilient.

On 2 October 2014, disaster management focal points from ASEAN Member States convened in Kuala Lumpur to continue the discussion on post-2015 agenda, the next planning phase for ASEAN. This READI-supported workshop also invited the AHA Centre, representatives from European Union as one of ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners, and representatives from civil society in ASEAN.

The year 2015 is an important year for many. At the global level, intensive discussions are being made to set the next Millennium Development Goals which is going to be called Sustainable Development Goals, while disaster management practitioners, policy makers, and researchers are planning the next package of commitments on disaster risk reduction, which is commonly called ‘Hyogo Framework for Action 2’ or HFA2.

Continuous discussions related to climate change and humanitarian responses, particularly for the upcoming Climate Summit in France and World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey will also fuel the debate to address the complex issues in the world that we live in.

In the field of disaster management and humanitarian response, ASEAN has been improving rapidly, particularly in the areas of preparedness and response. However the two areas of disaster risk reduction and disaster recovery are still not progressing as expected. Building disaster resilience by reducing the risk of disasters will be key for ASEAN. For example, this would mean having safer schools and safer hospitals, safeguarding critical infrastructures when disaster strikes, and establishing risk financing to the most vulnerable people.

A wide range of topics were discussed at the workshop, including newly emerging issues such as strengthening a ‘one ASEAN one response’ spirit, decision making processes, deployments of assets within and outside the region to support humanitarian response, partnerships with the private sector, and collaboration with civil societies. Representatives from the EU also provided useful insights and perspectives on their challenges and processes.

In addition, ASEAN Leaders have agreed on six central elements for post 2015 vision of the ASEAN community, which are politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible, people-oriented, and people-centred and rules-based. This workshop then provided an essential start to discuss how these central elements and the emerging issues will shape the priorities of a future AADMER work programme, and, most importantly, delivering on the commitments to build a disaster resilient ASEAN and safe communities as stated in AADMER.

 

 

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