The Asia-Pacific region comprises 52 percent of the earth's surface area and 40 percent of the world's population, and experiences over 70 percent 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. Originally called the Virtual Task Force for Emergency Preparedness, the TFEP carried out much of its work via electronic communications. Pursuant to its Terms of Reference, the Task Force is mandated to coordinate and facilitate emergency and disaster preparedness within APEC.
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 upgraded in status to a working group.
Now the 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.
Activities for 2013:
- Policy Dialogue on Emergency Response Travel Facilitation (ERTF) on 1 February 2013, Jakarta, Indonesia
- 4th EPWG meeting on 2-3 February 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia
- 5th EPWG meeting (SOM3) on July 2-3 in Medan, Indonesia. (TBC)
- The Seventh APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum (7th SDMOF)” organized by Indonesia on August 21-22 in Bali, Indonesia. (TBC)
- Projects / Workshops
The 4th EPWG meeting was held on 2-3-February 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Key issues discussed included:
- Members endorsed the EPWG 2013 Work plan and agreed to continue to support Cross-Fora collaborations during 2013, such as with the Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG), Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG), Transportation Working Group (TPTWG), the Business Mobility Group (BMG), and the Sub-Committee on Customs Procedure (SCCP), as well as with international organizations like the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
- Members welcomed reports on completed projects during 2012 as well as on the final outcomes of the 6th APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum (SDMOF), held in October 2012 in Vladivostok which underlined the proposal to build a Crisis Management Centers network in the APEC region.
- Members reviewed the outcomes of the Policy Dialogue on Emergency Response Travel Facilitation (ERTF) involving EPWG, BMG and SCCP.
- Members agreed to start drafting the EPWG strategic plan in accordance with SOM Steering Committee on Economic and Technical Cooperation (SCE) recommendations.
- Members welcomed the Project Management Unit’s (PMU) update on progress made to date on the Budget and Management Committee-led initiative: Long Term Evaluation on APEC Projects. EPWG will step forward to be a pilot group for this evaluation initiative.
- “APEC capacity building workshop on search and rescue at sea” Workshop organized by Viet Nam on June 5-7 in Nha Trang, Viet Nam. (TBC)
- “Application of Satellite Technologies for Emergencies Preparedness, Management and Response in Asia-Pacific Region” Workshop organized by Russia in August. The event will be back-to-back with the 7th SDMOF. (Date and location TBC)
- “Management and Response in Asia-Pacific Region” organized by Russia. The event will be back-to-back with the 7th SDMOF in August. (Date and location TBC)
Through the following self-funded projects, the EPWG will continue promoting public-private partnerships to enhance disaster resilience:
- Developing Governments’ Capacity to Promote and Facilitate the Effective Use of Business Continuity Planning for Disaster Resiliency” Workshop organized by Australia on May 9-10 in Hanoi, Viet Nam.
- “EPWG Workshop on Applying Geospatial Hazard and Risk Information” organized by the US on June 30 – July 1 in Medan, Indonesia. (TBC)
- “APEC Workshop on Global Supply Chain Resilience” organized by the US and jointly sponsored by TPTWG and EPWG on June 26-28 in Bali, Indonesia.
Other projects and initiatives:
Subject to funding, the EPWG will also conduct the following activities:
- Seminar on Enhancing Regional Supply Chain Resilience to Disasters in APEC (led by Thailand)
- Workshop on Evacuation Planning and Sheltering Management in APEC (led by Chinese Taipei and China)
- Enhancing APEC Cooperation on Community-based Disaster Risk Management (led by Viet Nam and Australia, 2014 – 2015)
APEC’s Emergency Preparedness activities in 2012:
- Nomination of the new EPWG Co-Chairs for 2012-2013.
- 3rd (EPWG) meeting was held in in Kazan, Russian Federation (29-30 May 2012)
- 6th Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum was held in Vladivostok, Russian Federation, in October 2012.
New EPWG Co-Chairs
In accordance with the endorsed Guidelines for Chairmanship of APEC EPWG, members agreed intersessionally on the nomination of the new Co-Chairs: Ph.D. Li, Wei-Sen (Chinese Taipei) Deputy Executive Secretary, National S&T Center for Disaster Reduction and former Steering Committee Chair, and Mr. Nguyen Huu Phuc (Viet Nam), Director General, Disaster Management Center from Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The 3rd Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG). Key issues discussed included:
- EPWG endorsed the paper, "Strengthening collaboration between the EPWG, other APEC Fora, and non-members.”
- Streamline EPWG organizational structure and function.
- EPWG approved a response to EPWG Independent Assessment of 2011 to report to SCE.
- Increased sharing of best practices and experiences at governmental, sub-governmental, NGOs and community level through the EPWG website
EPWG members implemented the APEC Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Preparedness and Response in The Asia Pacific Region: 2009 – 2015.
6th APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum (SDMOF)
The 6th SDMOF, held in Vladivostok, Russia on 9-10 October 2012 and chaired by EMERCOM Minister of Russia Mr. Vladimir Puchkov, gathered senior officials of fifteen economies to share best practices and experiences on natural disasters management. An important outcome was the recommendation to establish a Crisis Management Centers Network in the APEC region in collaboration with UNOCHA and to entrust the EPWG to continue further work on developing cooperation among CMCs in line with the guidance of APEC.
Projects/Workshops implemented in 2012
- A training course on Quantitative Precipitation/Estimation Forecasting (QPE/QPF) focused on the quantitative assessment of the amount of precipitation brought about by the occurrence of typhoons and heavy rainfall over a predicted area (27-30 March 2012 in Manila, the Philippines).
- APEC Seminar on Capacity Building for Disaster Recovery and Rehabilitation (11-12 June 2012 in Shanghai, China).
- Under cross-fora collaboration, the Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG) sought assistance from EPWG to implement the Multiple Year Project, “Improving Natural Disaster Resilience of APEC SMEs to Facilitate Trade and Investment” (2012-2014).
- EPWG Implementation of the Independent Assessment Report recommendations.
- Developing Governments’ Capacity to Promote and Facilitate the Effective Use of Business Continuity Planning for Organizational Resilience (Australia)
- Travel Facilitation for Disaster Personnel and Equipment in Times of Disasters in the Asia-Pacific Region (Indonesia)
- Development of Crisis Management Centers in APEC economies and their integration into the global network (Russia)
- APEC Capacity Building Workshop on Search and Rescue of Persons and Vessels in Distress at Sea (Viet Nam)
APEC’s Emergency Preparedness activities in 2011 included:
- 2nd EPWG meeting was held in Washington DC, USA in March 2011.
- EPWG Steering Committee meeting was held in San Francisco, USA in September 2011.
- 5th Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum was held in San Francisco, USA on 21-23 September 2011.
- High Level Dialogue on Disaster Resiliency was held on 11 November 2011 in Hawaii, USA.
- Projects / Workshops
The 2ND Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG). Issues discussed included:
- Aligning the EPWG's website with other international fora that deal with emergency preparedness and business resilience.
- Organizing a Policy Dialogue involving expert speakers from APEC, international organizations and business to broaden perspectives on the work of the EPWG.
5th APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum
This forum for senior disaster management officials (i.e. heads of disaster management agencies in the Asia-Pacific region) allowed the participants to share lessons learned and best practices to strengthen cooperation and coordination between the region’s disaster management agencies. The 5th APEC SDMOF, like the APEC Chief Emergency Officials (CEOs) forums before it, was the largest annual gathering of disaster management leaders in the Asia-Pacific region. The theme of the 2-3 day forum was public-private partnerships for disaster management. Principles on public-private partnerships were endorsed.
The APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Disaster Resiliency
During the meeting members reviewed the latest natural disasters that had occurred in the region during 2011, as well as case studies, lessons learnt and ways to foster greater cooperation. The forum gave high priority to the importance of public-private partnership (PPP) on disaster management. Members also discussed a set of principles on PPP to promote disaster resilient businesses and communities and stressed the importance of business recovery plans.
They agreed on six broad principles that will guide the development of EPWG projects in 2012:
- Adopt a “Whole of Society” approach to developing and strengthening public-private partnerships that support business and community resilience to disasters. This includes involving all levels of government, non-government, and the private sector;
- Through public-private partnership programs, encourage a greater role for women in supporting disaster resilient businesses and communities;
- Strengthen public-private partnerships by sharing information, drawing on best practices, and learning from experiences;
- Leverage existing programs and resources, and strengthen partnerships that develop during disasters to sustain long-term public-private collaboration and avoid duplication of effort;
- Establish partnerships based on shared responsibilities and resources, with mutually agreed upon roles and tasks;
- Cultivate public private partnerships that are open to flexible and innovative ways of working together to build business and community resilience to disasters.
Projects / Workshops implemented in 2011
- The International Disaster Management Course (IDMC) (Singapore on 28 March to 4 April 2011), addressed the emergency response and approach towards disaster management at both the tactical and operational levels. It provided a wide-ranging discourse on issues and challenges facing the authorities dealing in disaster management at a national/state level.
- Facing the Abnormal Flood Disaster: New vision for APEC member economies (Da Nang, Viet Nam on 28-29 July 2011). Participants had a productive discussion on issues like climate change and its impact on abnormal floods, rising sea levels, high tides and the possible impact of the increasing abnormal flood. They shared useful and effective experiences and best practices on flood management.
- Workshop on Private Sector Emergency Preparedness (Sendai, Japan on 1-3 August 2011). The workshop focused on improving private sector emergency preparedness, bringing together experts from the public and private sectors to share ideas and experience with representatives from APEC economies. Themes included strengthening business and supply chain resilience as well as engaging the private sector in business continuity planning (BCP) as part of a broader effort to facilitate trade and investment in the Asia- Pacific region.
- School Earthquake Safety in APEC Economies: Reducing Risk and Improving Preparedness (Chinese Taipei on 17-19 October 2011). This project addressed priorities set by APEC Leaders and APEC Emergency Management CEOs and improved the understanding of earthquake risk to schools in the APEC economies, capacity building for managing earthquake risk and developed a comprehensive school earthquake safety policy framework. Participants also worked towards drafting an APEC-specific school safety framework.
- Study Course on Wildfires Management in APEC Region contributed to the enforcement of national emergency management systems and strengthening of APEC regional capacities in wildfires management (Russia on 7-11 November 2011).
- 2011 APEC Food Security Forum – APEC Food Emergency Response Mechanism (Chinese Taipei on 9-11 August). Self-funded project.
APEC’s Emergency Preparedness activities in 2010 included:
- An APEC Roundtable Meeting on “Asia Regionalism: Responding to Climate Change and Natural Disasters” was held on 5-6 May 2010 in Singapore.
- A “Public-Private Partnerships and Disaster Resilience Workshop” was held on 15-18 June 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand.
- Cooperation with the APEC Climate Centre to develop an extreme climate prediction system is ongoing. An APEC Climate Symposium was held on 20-24 June 2010 in Busan, Korea.
- A “Seminar on Cooperation to Prevent Forest Fires” was held October 2010 in Khabarovsk, Russia.
Dr Li WEI-SEN (Mr)
Deputy Executive Secretary
National Science & Technology Center for Disaster Reduction
9F., No.200, Sec. 3, Beisin Rd., Sindian City,
Taipei County 231, Chinese Taipei
NGUYEN Huu Phuc (Mr)
Disaster Management Center
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Viet Nam)
Sergio NAREA (Mr)