The Asia-Pacific region comprises 52 per cent of the earth's surface area and 40 per cent of the world's population, and experiences over 70 per cent of the world's natural disasters. Disturbingly, scientists warn that the intensity and frequency of disasters in the Asia-Pacific region will increase in the decades ahead, exacerbated by unplanned urbanisation, poor land-use management, and climate change.

Emergency preparedness is one of the key elements of APEC's human security agenda, along with countering terrorism and pandemics. Disasters that affect one member economy can have significant spill-over effects in other economies.

Catastrophes in the region - such as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the 2008 earthquake in China's Sichuan province, the 2010 earthquake in Chile, and the 2011 earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan - are critical reminders of the importance of APEC's emergency preparedness work.

APEC's Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) was first established as APEC's Task Force for Emergency Preparedness (TFEP) by APEC Senior Officials in 2005.  Originally called the Virtual Task Force for Emergency Preparedness, the TFEP carried out much of its work via electronic communications.

In 2009 APEC Leaders reaffirmed the importance of enhancing human security and reducing the threat of disruptions to business and trade in the Asia-Pacific region. Recognizing the importance of its work, in 2010 the TFEP was upgraded in status to a working group.

Now the EPWG continues to play a constructive role in enabling the region to better prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters by helping to reduce the risk of disasters and building business and community resilience. By sharing expertise and collaborating on emergency preparedness issues, APEC members strengthen their capacity to mitigate emergencies and disasters.

The EPWG works closely with the APEC Climate Center, ABAC, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the Manila Observatory and the OECD.

Current Activities

The Emergency Preparedness Working Group met on 28-29 January in Subic, the Philippines and again on 13-14 May in Boracay, the Philippines.

Key Deliverables:  

Business Continuity Planning for Disaster Resiliency (2012-2013)

This Australia-funded project helped government officials enhance their capacity to promote and facilitate the use of SME Business Continuity Planning (BCP) in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, and China. Targeted activities helped raise awareness of the value of business continuity planning (BCPs); guided government officials in identifying the barriers they face in promoting BCPs; enlisted BCP experts to assist officials formulate viable strategies to overcome these barriers; encouraged officials to road-test these strategies in their home economies; and supported them in the refinement of those strategies. The project builds on the Small and Medium Enterprise Working Group multi-year project entitled ‘Improving Natural Disaster Resilience of APEC SMEs to Facilitate Trade and Investment’.

Enhancing Regional Supply Chain Resilience to Disasters

EPWG, led by Thailand, is currently implementing this project to raise awareness of the importance of developing international supply chain resilience to natural disasters, both among the government and private sector. It is intended to be a forum for APEC members with expertise in disaster preparation and management, and UN organizations (i.e. United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction) to share information, lessons learned and practices that will help government officials as well as business executives to identify workable measures to mitigate potential disaster impact on local and regional supply chains

Seminar on Leveraging Information and Communications Systems for Enhancing Supply Chain Resilience to Disasters in APEC

The APEC-funded seminar on leveraging information and communication systems for enhancing supply chain resilience to disasters in APEC was held in Bangkok, Thailand on 19-20 June 2014. The seminar aimed to gather public and private sector to share information, lessons learned and practices, as well as to explore opportunities of information and communications technologies (ICT) to enhance preparedness and resilience of supply chains. The seminar focused on following topics:

  • Critical review of previous activities under APEC framework to enhance regional supply chain resilience;
  • Developing comprehensive national database and information platform for disaster risk reduction and management;
  • Establishing integrated system and mechanism for accurate and timely communication and information dissemination during the crisis;
  • Creating early warning system and ICT-based internal and external capability to provide disaster preparedness and resiliency in supply chains;
  • PPP framework for ICT deployment and management of disaster risk information;
  • How Information and Communications Systems Fit into the Larger APEC Efforts for Enhancing Supply Chain Resilience; and
  • Emerging social network technology for reducing global supply chain vulnerability.

Emergency Response Travel Facilitation Initiative (ERTF)

This initiative is focused on facilitating the movement of emergency/disaster relief personnel and the movement of emergency goods and equipment in the event of a disaster. The APEC Stocktaking Study of Emergency Response Travel Facilitation for Personnel, Goods and Equipment in Times of Crisis confirmed the importance and urgency of cross-border movement of international responders and their personal equipment in assisting at the initial stages of recovery in the aftermath of a large-scale disaster. Moving forward, this initiative is working toward removing or minimizing impediments in delivering and receiving assistance from within the APEC region, recognizing related government institutions, private sector and disaster relief experts for deployment and establishing voluntary regulatory practices in APEC for delivering and receiving international assistance and improving interoperability in disaster response.

Application of Satellite Technologies (2012-2013)

Led by Russia, this APEC-funded project focused on training for increasing emergency preparedness of APEC economies through proper application of innovative satellite and communication technologies. Satellite monitoring of natural and industrial catastrophes and emergency situations has become an important required component of information support to regional emergency services, providing near real time on-line data (satellite images). The project provided training on satellite technology application for different types of emergencies (earthquakes, floods, wildfires, drought, sea surface oil pollution), modern satellite systems (high resolution radars, small satellite constellations) and its application for emergency response and management and development of international cooperation and mechanisms of fast remote sensing data delivery for disaster response.

Image: Satellite image of Thailand floods in 2011. Source: APEC Stocktaking Study of Emergency Response Travel Facilitation for Personnel, Goods and Equipment in Times of Crisis

The next 9 EPWG meeting will be held in Lima, Peru, on February 2016, in the margins of the First Senior Officials' Meeting.

Achievements

APEC’s Emergency Preparedness activities in 2015:

Workshop on Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM)

This activity held in Ha Long, Viet Nam on September 18-19, aimed to further strengthen APEC’s efforts to build community resilience and preparedness for emergencies and natural disasters. The participants of the workshop identified the gaps and capacity building needs related to CBDRM; exchanged points of view and various policy recommendations on CBDRM; and enhanced APEC’s cooperation with international organizations for community resilience to disasters. The workshop was focused on sharing best practices, lessons learnt, application of new solutions and tools to support the local authority in implementing the CBDRM at community level among APEC members. Participants suggested recommendations for APEC to enhance APEC member economies’ capability to manage disasters.

The 3rdWorkshop on Application of Big Data and Open Data to Emergency Preparedness

The event that took place in Chinese Taipei on October 29-30, 2015 gave the delegates the chance to provide synergies between multiple fora and member economies in order to promote open data and create a safer trade environment to favor global supply chain resilience by better enhancing quality of business continuity plan as well as upgrade safety of tourism business by revealing transparent risk and boost cooperation on critical infrastructure protection. Main objectives were to investigate current status of application and demands of data through a region-wide survey; to develop a roadmap of capacity building on assisting member economies in establishing big data; to promote open data for creating safer trade environment; and to formulate a mechanism sharing open data to strengthen emergency preparedness.

Workshop on Promoting Disaster Risk Management and Hazard Mapping to Better Understand Potential Risks to the Supply Chain

Under the Transportation Working Group, this cross-fora initiative led by the United States allowed EPWG delegates to participate in the workshop held in Lima, Peru on 4-6 May 2015, and gave them the chance to build skills on using risk modelling and hazard mapping to promote supply chain resilience as well as to exploring different hazard mapping tools through informative panels, interactive group activities, and break-out sessions.

APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum (SDMOF)

The 9th SDMOF, held in Iloilo, the Philippines, on 22-23 September 2015 and chaired by Undersecretary Alexander Pama from the Office of Civil Defense of the Philippines, gathered representatives and experts from APEC economies and international agencies in this event chaired by Philippines) gave them the chance to have discussions under the theme ‘Whole-of-Economy Approach: A Paradigm Shift to Adapt to the New Normal’ and exchange experiences, best practices and existing Disaster Risk Reduction mechanisms. The forum also provided the opportunity to discuss on possible ways to enhancing and strengthening the regional cooperation, which was understood as the maximization of science and technology and further collaboration with the private sector, and engagement with regional and international organizations.

In the occasion, APEC Officials adopted the “APEC Disaster Risk Reduction Framework” (Annex A of the AMM Joint Statement), based in the concept of the “new normal”, which is characterized by the increasing frequency, magnitude and scope of natural disasters, and the disruption of free flow of trade and investments across economies, as well as the threats to inclusiveness and sustainability of growth and development in the region.

Contacts

Kyoko KONDO (Ms)
Executive Director
Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC)
Email: kk-kondo@adrc.asia kondo-k2qkh@am.wakwak.com
Lê Quang TUẤN (Mr)
Deputy Head
Science Technology and International Cooperation Division
Department of Natural Disaster Prevention and Control Standing Office of the Central Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control (Vietnam)
Email: anhtuan.ihe@gmail.com
Kartika HANDARUNINGRUM (Ms)
Email: kh@apec.org