The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the World Bank announced on Monday a cooperation program to strengthen disaster risk reduction and disaster management in Southeast Asia.
The joint cooperation program was launched at the Bali Disaster Risk Reduction Forum, the first tripartite forum and training workshop.
This program was aimed to help the ASEAN reduce its vulnerability to natural hazards, thus protecting its citizens from the impact of extreme weather events in the future. The program was the focus of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on Disaster Risk Reduction, a tripartite agreement between the ASEAN Secretariat, the UNISDR and the World Bank.
The program laid a framework for technical support from the UN and the World Bank to help the ASEAN formulate and implement strategies and action plans for disaster risk reduction and management.
The objectives of this program include building ASEAN's capacity in the areas of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, mobilizing resources for the implementation of disaster risk reduction initiatives in the ASEAN; and helping ASEAN policy-makers gain knowledge of effective and practical ways to reduce disaster risks.
The tripartite program was innovative as they would capitalize the expertise and strengths of the three organizations to help achieve their common vision of a disaster-resilient and safer community.
Recent natural disasters in Asia, including the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006 and the cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008, highlight the region's vulnerability. As more and more ASEAN citizens move into cities in search of better opportunities, they also face greater risks from natural hazards. Most major ASEAN cities are located near rivers or the ocean, which heightens their vulnerability to unusual weather events induced by climate change.