ASEAN achieves a milestone towards regional disaster risk reduction


Omar H Amach

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Asia and Pacific
ASEAN Screenshot
On 27 November, ASEAN Ministers in charge of disaster management agreed on the strategic direction of regional cooperation in mitigating disaster losses and responding to disaster emergencies for the next five years through the new AADMER Work Programme 2021-2025

The year 2020 was a difficult year for Southeast Asia which, in addition to dealing with the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, faced several disasters caused by extreme weather events, most notably in the Philippines and Vietnam, two Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Highlighting the urgent need to strengthen regional cooperation against disaster risks, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in his address to the 37th ASEAN Summit on 12 November, called on ASEAN Member States to enhance “cooperation on disaster risk reduction management to reinforce our capacities, both at the national and regional levels.”

Before the year 2020 had ended, ASEAN achieved a great milestone through the adoption of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme 2021-2025 on 27 November.

The AADMER, which aims to reduce the region’s disaster risks in the long term, came into force in December 2009 and is unique among sub-regional agreements in that it is legally binding to ASEAN’s ten Member States.

“ASEAN’s transformation into a region that is resilient and adaptive to all forms of disasters must be carried out through a multi-hazards approach in disaster management,” said Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dato Lim Jock Hoi, in a press release issued by the ASEAN Secretariat.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms. Mami Mizutori, praised the new work programme for its alignment with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and its focus on improving multi-hazard risk governance, noting that:

“The guiding principles on multi-hazards approach, localization, and gender and social inclusion, among others, are pioneering steps forward in the right direction to reinforce the current global discourse on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

In its announcement of the adoption of the new work programme, ASEAN acknowledged the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) for its support. Further, H.E. Kung Phoak, Deputy Secretary-General of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, thanked UNDRR for its contributions and welcomed continued engagement between the two organisations.

Over the last two years, UNDRR’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific had assisted the ASEAN Secretariat in the drafting of the new work programme. This included an ASEAN Technical Consultation on Risk-Informed Sustainable Development, regular policy guidance, and dedicated technical assistance in the drafting of the work programme and its monitoring framework.

“The AADMER Work Programme 2021-2025 is a great leap forward in ensuring a risk-based and coherent approach to sustainable development and resilience building in the ASEAN region. This will be instrumental in accelerating action to implement the Sendai Framework in the region,” said, Mr. Animesh Kumar, Officer-in-Charge of UNDRR’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

As one of the largest and most influential sub-regional blocks in Asia-Pacific, ASEAN is a strong partner of UNDRR in promoting risk-informed development at the regional level.

The year 2020 also marked the end of the implementation of the ASEAN-UN Plan of Action 2016-2020[1], which is part of the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership.The new Plan of Action 2021-2025 has been finalized and DRR continues to be a priority as the plan seeks to “Promote and support risk-informed approaches, through participation of whole-of-government and relevant stakeholders, that strengthen the interlinkages among science-policy-practice.”

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