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. 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 elevated to an Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG).
EPWG seeks to build capacity in the region so that APEC member economies can better mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and natural disasters. These are achieved by building business and community resilience and fostering private-public partnerships to protect business, trade and economic growth and communities from disruption; sharing information, knowledge and technology to improve regional capacity on disaster risk reduction.
EPWG also continues to improve coordination, enhance intra-APEC cooperation, seek integration of best practice emergency and natural disaster preparedness efforts in APEC. This is done by fostering research and collaboration, sharing knowledge, lessons learnt and best practices in the field of emergency management to better protect business, trade and economic growth and communities in the Asia-Pacific region from disruptions related to emergencies and natural disasters.
In 2015, recognizing the persistence of disaster in the Asia Pacific Region, APEC Leaders adopted the APEC Disaster Reduction Risk Framework which primarily to addresses the pressing disaster concerns today as a result of the “new normal phenomenon”. The “new normal” is characterized by at least two phenomena: the increasing frequency, magnitude and scope of natural disasters, and the resultant disruption on the increasingly integrated and interlinked production and supply chains. This “new normal” disrupts the free flow of trade and investments across economies; and presents tremendous challenges and serious threats to the inclusiveness and sustainability of growth and development in the region. As per the World Bank estimate, the APEC economies have incurred disaster-related losses of over $100 Billion every year for the last ten years.
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 working group also works closely with the APEC Climate Center, ABAC, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the Manila Observatory and the OECD.
Last page update: 24 October 2016
APEC Guidelines on Appropriate Donations – Best Practices Approaches and Strategies
To ensure the effective operationalization of the APEC Guidelines across the APEC region through increased awareness, the United States developed a Communications Toolkit in 2015 that is designed as a practical tool to improve public outreach to increase awareness of appropriate donations.. The templates and tools that are contained in the Toolkit were discussed at a workshop conducted in Lima, in August 2016. These tools and templates can be customized for use by APEC economies and can be accessed via the following link:
Promoting Appropriate Donations in APEC - Communications Toolkit
Promoting Appropriate Donations Templates
Enhancing Regional Supply Chain Resilience to Disasters
The project led by Thailand and implemented by the EPWG aimed 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
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
APEC’s Emergency Preparedness activities in 2016:
APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum (SDMOF)
The 10th SDMOF, held in Iquitos, Peru, on 8-9 October 2016 and chaired by the Honorable Alberto Manuel Lozada Frias, head of National Institute of Civil Defense (INDECI). With the theme of the 10th SDMOF “Emergency Preparedness for Supply Chain and Emergency Food Security”, officials from APEC economies and representatives of international agencies recognized that disasters threaten food security of the most vulnerable populations. They also agree that disasters hinder trade and create challenges of different scope such as losses in livelihoods, diseases, and food scarcities. In that regard, officials recognized the importance of exploring food needs of the most vulnerable in emergencies and invite all member economies to share their experiences on social protection systems; supply chain management with a focus on addressing food security needs; disaster insurance mechanisms for improved food security in disasters; and private public partnerships for addressing emergency food needs. Outcome of the 10th SDMOF.
APEC Workshop on Strengthening Public Alert and Early Warning Capacity
This project, Strengthening Public Alert & Early Warning Capacity, was approved by APEC member economies through BMC in 2015.. The project includes an interactive workshop, which offers APEC economies the opportunity to share best practices, build valuable expert networks, and discuss common principles to support the improvement of early warning capacity in the region.
Many APEC economies have established public alert and warning systems as first tier emergency preparedness efforts. However, disaster risk reduction efforts in the region could be further improved through peer-to-peer learning and harnessing existing expertise in this area. To this end, the United States has developed an APEC Study:Strengthening Public Alert and Warning Capacity in APEC Economies. The results of this study – which examines the outcome of an APEC-wide survey and desk review of member economies’ current public alert and warning capabilities and challenges – was shared and discussed at the APEC Workshop on Strengthening Public Alert and Early Warning Capacity, held in Iquitos, Peru on 6-7 October 2016.
APEC Workshop: Tsunami Disaster Risk Reduction in APEC Economies
Tsunami directly affects both maritime cities and rural areas near the coast dependent on diverse economic activities, in particular fishing, aquaculture and fish processing industries, agriculture at coastal areas as well as coastal and marine tourism. Many APEC economies also have been directly suffering from damages of tsunami disasters and the increasing integrated and interlinked production and supply chains could indirectly be affected once a huge tsunami hit some member economies. Comprehensive anti-tsunami policies are crucial for member economies to face mega tsunami. In that connection, the workshop that was held in Lima, Peru on 16 August 2016, identified the status of anti-tsunami policies and measures in member economies, discuss major challenges to be addressed by EPWG and strengthen partnership with private sector in promoting anti-tsunami.
Workshop on Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM)
This activity held in Ha Long, Viet Nam on 18-19 September 2015, 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.
Kyoko KONDO (Ms)
Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC)
PhD Lê Quang TUẤN (Mr)
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)
Kartika HANDARUNINGRUM (Ms)
18 Feb 2017
Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG)
Nha Trang, Viet Nam