The massive earthquake in Chile this past week generated warnings of aftershocks and tsunami alerts from Australia to the United States, but it appears that the impact was limited due to a community-based approach to disaster risk management that officials took at the epicenter and across the region.
Steps taken by Chile to mitigate the effects of the quake and its subsequent resilience in the aftermath of the quake inspired emergency management officials from across the APEC region who convened this week at a workshop on community-based disaster risk management in response to climate change which was organized to prepare member economies to protect people's lives and assets and facilitate secure trade in the region.
Officials acknowledged that the the Asia-Pacific region now faces more extreme disasters as a result of climate change. For example, earthquakes and tsunamis Chile and Japan, floods in Thailand, storms and super storms in the Chinese Taipei and the Philippines, and large-scale droughts in the United States and New Zealand have impacted the region.
“Natural disasters will not only directly impact the life of local people and local efforts in poverty reduction and sustainable development, they also disrupt production and business activities of enterprise,” explained Viet Nam’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Vu Hong Nam in his opening remarks. “In the context of deepening globalization and increasing economic interdependence, natural disasters may generate systematic impacts by disrupting the global supply and value chains.”
“Early prevention measures with the participation of communities in all stages - from mitigation, preparedness, response to post-disaster recovery - are most effective in saving lives and minimizing the adverse economic and social impacts.”
Demonstrated by the tsunami warnings issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center shared with local authorities in impacted areas, the international community is accelerating cooperation.
“More than ever before, we should improve policy coordination, strengthen cooperation and take decisive measures to build up the response capability of communities and our member economies in this area,” Nam continued.
“Integrating different sectors to reduce disaster risk will help facilitate the safety and resilience of goods in supply chains during periods even at times of disasters,” added Dr Li Wei-Sen, Co-Chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group. “All the precautionary measures can strengthen resilience of the economy and community.”
“Business continuity planning protects small and medium enterprises against severe impacts of disaster at the grassroots level,” said Dr Li. “APEC is the right regional forum to take the lead where we are working to reduce economic exposure to natural hazards.”
“Taking an inclusive approach, we must better preparing vulnerable populations by engaging stakeholder communities,” Dr Li concluded. “Encouraging transparency of information and sharing best practices will help all of our member economies and communities to be more resilient in the face of disaster.”
Policy recommendations resulting from this workshop will be reported to senior emergency management officials in Iloilo, the Philippines on Monday.
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