ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community forum calls for new approach on ASEAN Disaster Management

**JAKARTA, 28 April 2022 **– The ASEAN Secretariat organised the Trends and Foresight for ASEAN Disaster Management forum to discuss adaptive approaches to disaster management on 21 April.

This is the second event of a series of forums under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Research and Development Platform Programme which brings evidence-based research and insights to support ASEAN sectoral bodies in their activities. The programme is supported by the Japanese government through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund.

“ASEAN is among the most disaster-prone regions in the world, and the sector has to prepare for and manage disasters against the backdrop of COVID-19,” said Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASCC Ekkaphab Phanthavong. He added that the disaster management sector will need to be equipped with strong strategic analysis and tools to be prepared for the changing risk landscape in ASEAN.

Naoki Minamiguchi, the Director of Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund Management Team, noted that the forum aims “to assist ASEAN in achieving substantial reduction of disaster losses in lives and assets and to enhance disaster resilience in the region through collaboration and cooperation in disaster management.” He emphasised the importance of actionable policy tools and innovative methodologies to be readily applied to the disaster sector.

The project’s advisor team, Resilience Development Initiative (RDI), highlighted the complex interactions between climate hazards, exposure and vulnerability, and disaster management. To respond to these interactions and come up with viable solutions, they advised that new adaptive approaches to disaster management will be needed.

However, Dr. Mizan Bisri from RDI warned that “there are several problems in utilising disaster-related technology such as disaster web applications that are not optimal, and there may be different capacity among ASEAN countries to utilise advanced technologies such as big data.”

The digitally mature approach to Disaster Risk Reduction Management was suggested as an option for ASEAN to address the existing gaps in disaster management.

The forum also discussed localisation of disaster risk management in ASEAN. Recognising, respecting, and strengthening the independence of leadership and decision-making of local actors are key to humanitarian and disaster response. Creating shared understanding and greater dissemination of localisation strategies ––– and developing a localisation roadmap at regional and country level ––– were recommended.

Loss of biodiversity remains a challenge as some ASEAN economies, such as those of Indonesia and the Philippines, remain highly dependent on natural resources. Southeast Asia is also one of the most vulnerable regions because of its high level of extreme poverty and high propensity to migration. Loss and damage, gender and vulnerable groups, technology development and transfer, and finance were also identified as issues that will impact climate change adaptation in ASEAN.

The last topic that was discussed touched on the multiple drivers of displacement trends in ASEAN. The advisor team highlighted that there were at least 21 million internally displaced persons (IDP) in 2015-2018 caused by disasters in Southeast Asia. Best practices from Kampala Convention by Africa Unity (AU) were presented as potential remedies.

In closing, Dr. Riyanti Djalante, Head of the Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Division reiterated that training and capacity buildings programmes will be crucial in utilising application technologies and ICT assets, and participation in ASEAN activities and programmes should be prioritised to support localisation of disaster management.

Additionally, she advocated for more cross-sectoral collaborations on nature-based solutions/resilient infrastructures, and called for the strengthening of ASEAN framework and database on displacement mapping and financial assistance programmes, to help address displacement issues in the region.

Representatives of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management from several ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Committee on Science, Technology, and Innovation, Senior Officials Committee for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, Committee on Permanent Representatives to ASEAN, attended the event.

Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations