JAKARTA – High-ranking disaster management officials from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries are stepping up regional cooperation to enable more resilient disaster risk management in the face of the current pandemic, climate change and other risks.
“Member States’ economies have gained so much experience in effectively responding to major disasters and managing risks on multiple fronts,” said Xiaoning Zhang, co-chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group, in a press release received here on Monday is.
“However, we need to improve our governance in the event of a disaster to cope with the current situation by promoting risk-based development strategies, monitoring of disaster risks and improving early warning capacity for better risk detection so that we can respond more fully,” he said.
In addition to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the APEC region is suffering heavy losses due to natural events such as typhoons, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, epidemics and even epidemics, he added.
According to data presented at the APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum in late May this year, the APEC region recorded $ 116.9 billion in catastrophe-related damage in 2020, excluding losses from the Covid-19 pandemic, which is a complex exercise will involve, he said.
During last month’s forum, the economies of APEC member states exchanged disaster risk reduction strategies and measures they are implementing to cope with the pandemic, including emergency statements, mask requirements, new guidelines and protocols for managing evacuation centers, and new protocols for crossing borders restrictions while traveling.
Even so, the challenges remain high, said Zhang.
Emergency management skills and capacities in the region have been expanded to unprecedented levels, making dependence on local communities more important than ever, he added.
APEC members are considering collective investments in resilience efforts across the region, including empowering local communities to act during a disaster, especially if there are lockdown measures preventing workers such as first responders from traveling, he said.
In her keynote address at the forum, Jenna Rogers of New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Emergency highlighted that events like Covid-19 show how vulnerable the region is to such complex threats.
âComplex known and unknown dangers exacerbate the risks for the region. Therefore, joint investment in resilience measures and collaboration across APEC is needed to protect economies, âsaid Rogers.
“Disasters pose a significant contingent liability to our prosperity, economic growth and development aspirations at all levels, and we need to be more intelligent about reducing the impact and cost of these disasters as we are exposed to an increasing frequency and severity of natural hazards as a result of climate change,” she added added.
Koji Suzuki, co-chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group, said disaster risk reduction is a cross-cutting issue for the economies of the APEC region.
“We need to empower our communities, foster a society-wide approach to ensure everyone has a role to play in building disaster resilience,” he said.
“It is vital for member countries to develop joint strategies between government agencies and the private sector, as well as foster greater international cooperation to track progress, build trust and share best practices in managing and reducing risks in the region,” added Suzuki added. (Antara)