Coming soon: Asia-Pacific resiliency framework

An aid worker hands a humanitarian relief package to a victim of earthquake in Indonesia. Photo by: All Hands Volunteers / CC BY-NC-SA

The 69th session of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific held on April 25 to May 1 in Bangkok — the first since the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in June last year — was abuzz with calls for a regional framework on resilience from the 45 countries attending.

The meeting closed with the passage of a draft resolution that will enable UNESCAP to mainstream “disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into long-term development planning, through policies, plans, programs and budgets at all levels of government and across all relevant ministries,” said Shamika Sirimanne, director for ICT and Disaster Risk Reduction at UNESCAP.

Sirimanne told Devex that the document marks a renewed commitment on the part of U.N. member states in investing in disaster risk reduction — a crucial stride in building a regional resilience framework.

The director authored a theme report that steered the session talks towards how Asia-Pacific countries are increasingly facing complex and unprecedented shocks, such as natural disasters and economic crises.

“And the region is far from ready to tackle this new reality. The report shows that no matter what the nature of the shock, those who are most exposed are the poor (…) and each shock erodes their capacity to cope with the next shock,” explained Sirimanne.

Regional framework on resilience

Sirimanne sees a window of opportunity in the envisioned framework, which she expects will “guide policymakers to place disaster risk reduction and building resilience against other external shocks as one of the priorities in development planning, and to initiate the process of preparing the policymakers to adopt strategies in a multisectoral manner.”

The plan, she said, will include:

  • Building resilience into macroeconomic frameworks

  • Extending social protection program to address multiple shocks, and aligning these programs to support community coping strategies

  • Identifying critical sectors and protect them from disasters

  • Integrating environmental policies to prevent the collapse of the interlinked land, water, energy nexus

  • Promoting collective actions by countries in the region to achieve these goals.

But money stands in the way. Sirimanne noted that the present funding for disaster risk reduction is “unacceptably low” — at just 0.07 percent of total ODA since 1980 — and fragmented despite its importance for sustainable development, and reminded donor countries of the commitment they made to the U.N in 2009 to allocate one percent of ODA to disaster risk reduction.

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About the author

  • Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a former Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covered the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business, and the law.