Emergency Preparedness Working Group

Most APEC economies are situated along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where strong earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions pose constant threats. The region is also the world’s most frequented by tropical cyclone formations, including yearly occurrences of Category 5 cyclones, or super typhoons. Furthermore, the Asia-Pacific Region is subjected to temperature changes in the Pacific Ocean, resulting in the El Niño and La Niña phenomena. All these conditions could be further exacerbated by climate change,

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.

The APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) was first established as the APEC 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. In 2010 the TFEP—the importance of its work recognized—was elevated to an Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG).

The 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. This is achieved by building business and community resilience; fostering private-public partnerships to protect communities and businesses from disruption; and by sharing information, knowledge and technology to improve regional capacity on disaster risk reduction.

The EPWG continues to improve coordination efforts within APEC, by fostering research and collaboration, sharing knowledge, lessons learned and best practices in the field of emergency management. The group  enhances cooperation among members, and seeks integration of best-practice emergency and natural disaster preparedness.

In 2015, APEC Leaders adopted the APEC Disaster Reduction Risk Framework, primarily to addresses the pressing concerns resulting from the persistence of disasters in the Asia Pacific Region, which are considered to be the “new normal.”

This “new normal” is characterized by at least two phenomena: the increasing frequency, magnitude and scope of natural disasters, and the resultant disruption of the increasingly integrated and interlinked production and supply chains of the region. This “new normal” disrupts the free flow of trade and investment across economies; it presents tremendous challenges and serious threats to the inclusiveness and sustainability of growth and development in the region. According to a World Bank estimate, APEC economies have been incurring disaster-related losses of over $100 billion every year for the last ten years.

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

The working group is guided by the EPWG Strategic Plan 2017 and the EPWG Terms of Reference (ToR).

Last page update: July 2017

Current Activities

APEC Guidelines on Appropriate Donations – Best Practices Approaches and Strategies

In 2015, the United States developed a Communications Toolkit designed to improve public outreach to increase awareness for appropriate donations to give when an economy is struck by a disaster. The templates and tools included 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 links:

Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum (SDMOF)

The 11th APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum (SDMOF) was held in Vinh City, Viet Nam on 21-22 September 2017. The Forum was officially opened by H.E. Hoang Van Thang, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam, and H.E. Mr Dinh Viet Hong, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Nghe An Province, and gathered more than 160 delegates. In response to APEC 2017 main theme of “Creating New Dynamism – Fostering a Shared Future” as well as the APEC DRR Framework, the 11th SDMOF focused on the theme of “enhancing inter-regional cooperation and advanced technology, innovation and application to effective emergency response to the "New normal” in the APEC economies”. The forum endorsed Vinh Joint Recommendation on Science and Technology for Disasters Risk Reduction “Enhancing science technology and cooperation to facilitate DRR decision support towards an effective policy making for upgrading DRR governance”. The joint recommendation could be find here.

EPWG APEC Workshop: Tsunami Disaster Risk Reduction in APEC Economies 

Tsunamis directly affect both maritime cities and rural areas near the coast that are dependent on diverse economic activities, in particular, fishing, aquaculture, fish-processing, coastal-area agriculture and marine tourism. And while many APEC economies have suffered directly from the damage wrought by tsunami disasters, others are indirectly affected, through the increasingly integrated production and supply chains to which these economies are linked.

Comprehensive anti-tsunami policies are crucial for member economies that might face mega-tsunamis. The workshop was held in Lima, Peru, on 16 August 2016. Participants identified the status of anti-tsunami policies and measures in member economies, and discussed major challenges to be addressed by the EPWG, and the means to strengthen partnerships with the private sector in promoting anti-tsunami efforts.   

APEC Workshop on Strengthening Public Alert and Early Warning Capacity

This project, approved by APEC member economies in 2015, offered members 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 members have established public alert and warning systems as part of their first-tier emergency preparedness efforts. However, disaster risk reduction in the region could be further improved through peer-to-peer learning and by harnessing existing expertise in this area.

To this end, the United States has produced a study, called “Strengthening Public Alert and Warning Capacity in APEC Economies,” which examines the outcome of an APEC-wide survey and desk review of member economies’ current public alert and warning capabilities and challenges. The results of this study were shared and discussed at the APEC Workshop on Strengthening Public Alert and Early Warning Capacity, held in Iquitos, Peru, on 6-7 October 2016.

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

This workshop, which took place in Chinese Taipei on 29-30 October 2015, brought together delegates from different fora and member economies to promote open data as a means to creating a safer trade environment and resilient global supply chains. Utilizing big and open data can be used to boost cooperation on critical infrastructure protection, enhance business continuity plans, and upgrade safety methods for tourism businesses by revealing transparent risk.

The main objectives were to investigate the status of applications and demands of data through a region-wide survey; to develop a roadmap of capacity building, assisting member economies in establishing big data; to promote open data as a means for creating a safer trade environment; and to formulate a mechanism for sharing open data to strengthen emergency preparedness.

Workshop on Community Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM)

Held in Ha Long, Viet Nam, on 18-19 September 2015, this workshop 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 community based disaster risk management (CBDRM), exchanged points and policy recommendations, and enhanced APEC’s cooperation with international organizations for community resilience to disasters.

The workshop was focused on sharing best practices, recommendations and lessons learnt, as well as the application of new solutions and tools to support local authorities in implementing CBDRM at the community level among APEC members. Participants made recommendations for APEC to enhance member economies’ capability to manage disasters.

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Emergency Preparedness

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).