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APEC Urges Implementation of Disaster Early Warning Systems to Save Lives

Emergency Preparedness Working Group Seattle, The United States | 02 August 2023


APEC member economies are accelerating the implementation of robust early warning systems to strengthen risk management and advance disaster risk reduction for all of the Asia-Pacific communities, including those most vulnerable to disasters by 2027.

A recent United Nations’ report showed that although there were lesser disasters recorded in 2022 compared to 2021, the impact of last year’s disasters were more severe. Over 140 disaster events occurred in the Asia-Pacific region in 2022—causing 7,500 deaths, affected over 64 million people and brought economic damage estimated to be over $57 billion. The report emphasized the necessity for economies in the region to invest massively in early warning systems.

“With APEC leaders leading us to a more sustainable and inclusive development, our group should contribute more to APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 and Aotearoa Plan of Action,” said Yan Guan, co-chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG). The group 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.

“Against the backdrop of mounting and cascading natural hazards, we encourage emergency management agencies to shift our policy mindset from post-disaster relief to pre-disaster prevention, from single hazard reduction to comprehensive risk management, and from reducing losses to mitigating risks,” Yan added.

Officials, representatives from the private sector, academia and industry leaders discussed diverse approaches to early warning systems in the APEC region and explored a regional approach to this during their meeting on Tuesday in Seattle.

Communications system including timely and accurate dissemination of warnings that can reach rural communities are key criteria to an effective early warning system. Examples shared during the meeting include partnering with the private sector, rural communities and domestic media including TV, online and radio channels, leveraging artificial intelligence and big data, as well as using open source and digital platforms.

The meeting also assessed the impact of complex emergencies and disaster shocks to the region’s supply chains and ways to promote disaster risk reduction in supply chain management. 

“Our ability to address emergent threats is rooted in the adaptability of our emergency management workforce and our strategic international partnerships,” said Cynthia Spishak, United States Host Economy Representative. To date, the EPWG has accelerated the implementation of effective disaster risk reduction and adaptive crisis management efforts across the region.

“Flexible, scalable, and adaptable organizations are best positioned to meet the demands generated by complex emergencies,” Spishak added 

Data governance systems in the region is a key component to the discussion on strengthening the region’s climate resilience. Currently there is no single approach to collecting, interpreting and disseminating disaster risk data among APEC economies and there’s opportunities for cross-economy collaboration in this space.

“Every economy has put in place its own planning for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction, but I believe we will benefit from and empower ourselves by learning from each other,” Yan concluded. “I believe we all have a heart as big as our mandate—that is to work towards a region where disaster risks no longer threaten or destroy the well-being of people.”

Senior disaster management officials met in Seattle on Wednesday for the APEC Senior Disaster Management Forum chaired by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell.


For further details, please contact:

Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 at [email protected]
Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at [email protected]