Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience

DRR and Resilience
Overview

As the Asia-Pacific region experiences rapid economic growth, disaster risk is outpacing resilience and putting people in this most disaster-prone region at risk of being pushed back into poverty. The countries with the highest exposure to disaster risk often have low capacity to mitigate them. 

Disaster risk reduction is an integral part in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, disaster risk reduction and resilience-building are targets in the following Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 1 (poverty); Goal 2 (hunger); Goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities); and Goal 13 (climate action). In that regard, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in its effort to produce the Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017, has reviewed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Asia-Pacific from the perspective of disaster risk reduction and resilience. A detailed breakdown of targets on disaster risk resilience in the Sustainable Development Goals can be found in the note by the ESCAP secretariat “Disaster risk reduction and resilience in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Reducing disaster risk and building resilience are interrelated thrusts of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its linkages with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 can help ensure that disaster risk reduction is mainstreamed across all sectors of sustainable development and climate change adaptation. The 2030 Agenda requires a stronger commitment to integrating disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into development policies to save the gains of development in the Asia-Pacific. This convergence offers unprecedented opportunities towards building resilience in Asia and the Pacific, the world’s most disaster-prone region. Dealing with shared risks and vulnerabilities among countries in the region requires coherent policy actions aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the Sendai Framework as well as strengthened regional cooperation.

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To combat this, experience from the region and around the world has proven that disaster risk reduction and preparedness is far more effective and less costly than only response, relief and recovery efforts. Considering longer-term implications of climate change, many policymakers recognize the need to move away from addressing disaster risks as external factors to development, and instead, integrate disaster risk management into the development process. ESCAP works to help countries build and monitor their resilience – to have the capacity to withstand, adapt to and recover from natural disasters – so that their people can continue to lead the kind of lives they value.

Disaster Risk Reduction and disaster resilience are thematic priorities in the Regional Roadmap. Countries in the region agreed to establish the Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network to strengthen ESCAP’s work on coherence for disaster risk reduction and resilience across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and ESCAP’s Regional Roadmap on implementation of the SDGs. The Network will integrate ESCAP’s analytical, norm setting and capacity development work as increasingly complex linkages emerge between disasters, climate extremes, poverty and conflicts. It will also facilitate collaboration and partnership among key stakeholders, including the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism and the Thematic Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience.

This website provides an overview of ESCAP secretariat’s work in disaster risk reduction and resilience through regional cooperation, information and analysis, and capacity building to support the Regional Roadmap.

Regional Cooperation

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For implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP works towards the maximization of efficiency of existing regional cooperation mechanisms. ESCAP strives towards the facilitation of regional dialogues and cooperation in integrating disaster risk reduction into related development activities. By providing guidance on how to reduce impact from, prepare for and recover from hazards sustainably, ESCAP has established and funded several successful regional mechanisms, development initiatives and publications to ensure continual, accurate information access, best-practice hazard-monitoring approaches and effective collaborative regional platforms.

As the regional development arm of the UN, ESCAP provides an intergovernmental platform for member States to address natural disaster challenges, as well as discuss and adopt regional disaster risk reduction strategies that are integrated with an inclusive, sustainable development agenda for the Asia-Pacific. 

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The ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness

The ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness was established in 2005, originally to support tsunami early warning through a multi-hazard approach. The destructive Indian Ocean Tsunami that occurred in December 2004 stressed the need for an effective regional disaster preparedness mechanism in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. In 2010, the scope of the Fund was broadened to include overall disaster and climate preparedness within the Fund’s core areas of support. The Fund contributes to narrowing the capacity gaps in the region and ensures the development of an integrated regional early warning system.

Further information can be found here.

WMO / ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones 

The WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) is an intergovernmental regional body jointly established by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific (UNESCAP) in 1972 and associated with the Tropical Cyclone Programme of WMO. 

The main objective of the WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones is to promote measures to improve tropical cyclone warning systems in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, including dissemination of technical information on tropical cyclone research and forecasting operations to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of tropical cyclone-related disasters. The Panel develops activities under five components: Meteorology, Hydrology, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Training and Research.

Further information can be found here.

ESCAP / WMO Typhoon Committee

The ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee has already a long history of about forty years and has been an example followed by countries of other regions affected by tropical cyclones. It is an intergovernmental body established in 1968 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (UNECAFE) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to promote and coordinate the planning and implementation of measures required for minimizing the loss of life and material damage caused by typhoons in ECAFE region.

The ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee has already a long history of about forty years and has been an example followed by countries of other regions affected by tropical cyclones. It is an intergovernmental body established in 1968 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (UNECAFE) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to promote and coordinate the planning and implementation of measures required for minimizing the loss of life and material damage caused by typhoons in ECAFE region.

Further information can be found here.

Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWMS)

The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG/IOTWMS) was formed in response to the tragic tsunami on 26 December 2004, in which over 230,000 lives were lost around the Indian Ocean region. The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) received a mandate from the international community to coordinate the establishment of the System during the course of several international and regional meetings, including the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (Kobe, Japan, 18 – 22 January 2005), and the Phuket Ministerial Meeting on Regional Cooperation on Tsunami Early Warning Arrangements (Phuket, Thailand, 28 and 29 January 2005). 

Further information can be found here.

Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES)

The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) is an international and intergovernmental institution, owned and managed by its Member States, for the generation and application of early warning information. RIMES evolved from the efforts of countries in Africa and Asia, in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, to establish a regional early warning system within a multi-hazard framework for the generation and communication of early warning information, and capacity building for preparedness and response to trans-boundary hazards. RIMES was established on 30 April 2009, and was registered with the United Nations on 1 July 2009. RIMES operates from its regional early warning center located at the campus of the Asian Institute of Technology in Pathumthani, Thailand.

Its aim is to provide regional early warning services and builds capacity of its Member States in the end-to-end early warning of tsunami and hydro-meteorological hazards. As its mission, RIMES is building capacity and providing actionable warning information towards forearmed, forewarned and resilient communities.

Further information can be found here.

Regional Drought Mechanism 

Effective monitoring and early actions for drought help save lives and livelihoods, for example when agencies at the national level, can inform farmers to switch to more drought-resistant crops. Such actions strengthen the long-term resilience of vulnerable communities. The Regional Cooperative Mechanism for Drought Monitoring and Early Warning (i.e. the Regional Drought Mechanism), which is a flagship project under the ESCAP Regional Space Applications Programme for Sustainable Development (RESAP), is a cooperative initiative where various countries or institutions support drought-prone developing countries and expand their capacity to use these and other tools to manage drought while building the capacity of governments to more effectively utilize space applications.

Further information can be found here.

ASEAN-United Nations Joint Strategic Plan of Action on Disaster Management

The Thematic Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience has advanced partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It forged a coherent approach towards engaging the ASEAN Secretariat and the AHA Centre to align the work and activities of the United Nations with jointly agreed priorities that support the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme for 2016-2020. The ASEAN- United Nations Joint Strategic Plan of Action on Disaster Management 2016-2020 is the result of this engagement.

The ASEAN-United Nations Joint Strategic Plan of Action on Disaster Management constituted an important step towards greater coherence in United Nations engagement with ASEAN on disaster risk reduction and management. Instead of each United Nations agency pursuing separate initiatives with ASEAN, it serves as an overall framework and promotes consistency in engagement, covering areas such as preparedness and response; risk assessment, early warning and monitoring; and prevention, mitigation, outreach and mainstreaming. ESCAP, as the UN lead agency of the risk awareness and assessment priority programme, in cooperation with ASEAN and the members of the Thematic Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience, is implementing initiatives to deliver on the UN’s commitments under the said priority programme.

Further information can be found here.

Asian and Pacific Disaster Center for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM)

The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in its resolution 71/11 decided to establish the Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM) as a regional institution of the Commission. Elected members of the Governing Council for the period 2016-2019 comprise, along with the host country the Islamic Republic of Iran, Bangladesh; Cambodia; Macao, China; Nepal; Pakistan; the Philippines; Sri Lanka and Turkey. The Governing Council of APDIM will hold its second session in Tehran, the Islamic Republic of Iran, on 31 January 2018. Additional information will made available soon.

Further information can be found here.

Risk Information and Analysis

For implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP promotes effective regional and sub-regional efforts to strengthen disaster risk modelling, assessment, mapping, monitoring and multi-hazard early warning systems of common and transboundary disasters. ESCAP furthermore works towards improved analysis to enhance regional knowledge on disaster risk and resilience, promote the wide dissemination of such knowledge, identify challenges and opportunities for data-sharing and provide the analytical basis for regional cooperation.

Risk assessment of cross-border hazards 

Drought, sand & dust storms

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Sand and dust storms present a formidable challenge to sustainable development, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions. Driven by land degradation, desertification and drought influenced by climate change, sand and dust storms are an increasing problem, directly affecting over 150 countries. There is growing alarm over the increasing frequency and intensity of sand and dust storms and their negative repercussions on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust and sand storms affect a range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to human health, productivity, agriculture and infrastructure. ESCAP is taking both hazard-specific and multi-hazard initiatives to fill information, cooperation and capacity gaps necessary to address the accelerating need for adaptation and mitigation of sand and dust storms. ESCAP offers a platform for regular dialogue and collective action among experts and other stakeholders to reinforce adaptation and mitigation responses to sand and dust storms.

Further information can be found here.

Transboundary floods 

Flood forecasting and early warning is one of the most effective flood risk management strategies to minimize the negative impacts of floods. Recent advances in science and technology, especially space technology applications, have enabled longer lead times of up to 5-8 days for flood forecasts along the transboundary river basins. These scientific advances, however, rarely reach the communities who live along these vast rivers. On average they get one-day notice for evacuation. It is therefore critical that the operational capacities of flood forecasting and early warning systems in the riparian countries are enhanced to effectively utilize these new tools and techniques to save lives and livelihoods. A toolkit for flood forecasting and early warning in transboundary river-basin has been prepared in collaboration with the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), to support the capacity building process in the region. It highlights how the tools, techniques, and other resources available from RIMES, the International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the Mekong River Commission (MRC), the World Bank’s South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI) can be put to operational use for more effective flood forecasting.

Further information can be found here.

Socio-Economic Analysis 

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Tackling the underlying risk factors associated with the social and economic conditions of people remains one the most difficult tasks of disaster risk management. Both social and economic challenges and conditions are highlighted not only by disasters themselves, but the way disaster risk management is constructed and utilized. ESCAP’s work helps to achieve the Sendai Framework’s targets to mainstream DRR through a multi-sectoral, multi-lateral approach, not only securing efficiency of disaster response, but disaster prevention, preparedness and recovery to maintain resilience. At the root of this approach is the need for socio-economic analyses of disasters. These analyses provide grounds to develop resources and highlight trends that must be addressed while mainstreaming DRR holistically for reducing the negative impact on various economic sectors and vulnerable social groups. 

Further information can be found here.

Tools and references 

Asian Dynamic Risk Assessment Guidelines & Experiences (ADAGE)

Disaster risks – created by hazardous physical events interacting with vulnerable social conditions - can change significantly across time and space because of the dynamic nature of their drivers and their interactions. However, many disaster risk assessments at present are capturing only static variables (GFDRR 2016). This limitation reduces the relevance of disaster risk assessments to operational decision-making. 

The ASEAN Dynamic Risk Assessment Guidelines and Experiences (ADAGE) aims to gradually promote dynamic risk assessments in ASEAN countries by providing a framework and operational examples. Variables contributing to risk at a location can be broadly categorized as static (or quasi-static) (such as topography, land use, soil population, socio-economics) and dynamic (weather, crop-status or water resources related). Through a collaborative approach amongst practitioners, ADAGE aims to bring these sources of information to operational risk assessments and decision making.

Further information can be found here.

The Asia-Pacific Disaster Risk Atlas

The Asia-Pacific region has built more infrastructure across all sectors than any other developing region, and continues to have significant infrastructure investment needs. Infrastructure is the key to economic production, trade and improving everyday life, so it is vital that these investments are risk informed to minimize the damage and losses due to disasters and to therefore protect development gains. The Asia and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM) has developed the Asia-Pacific Disaster Risk Atlas to address this need by presenting an overview of infrastructure within the region and its exposure to disaster risk. This serves two functions. Firstly, to highlight the need for infrastructure investments to be risk informed, and secondly, to provide the information necessary for policy makers to make such risk informed decisions. The Atlas contains geospatial datasets on multiple hazards, as well as the distributions of energy, transport and telecommunications infrastructure additionally to population density. Users can select any combination of datasets to visualize disaster risk within the region.

Space-based tools and technological innovations

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To ensure inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development, ESCAP promotes the integrated use of state-of-the-art tools and technological innovations, such as space-based data, to complement socio-economic indicators and ground-based data within disaster risk management. These technologies are crucial for timely response to a wide variety of disasters in the Asia-Pacific Region. Specifically, space-applications have been used to monitor drought, through the Drought Mechanism, which provides timely and free access to space-based data/products and services to participating countries, who also receive training and other capacity building. Innovations and tools provide the necessary rapid assessment of pre, during and post-disaster conditions. ESCAP is advocating for stronger access to data, building technological capacity, and cross-sectoral analysis.

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Capacity-Building

For implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP promotes capacity-building regarding climate resilience, including climate-related disaster risk reduction, through policy dialogues and the sharing of experiences and information. 

Policy Coherence 

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Coherence promotes synergies among different policy areas and actors to achieve outcomes associated with jointly agreed objectives. Coherence is critical in harnessing the combined strengths of global development frameworks. It provides alignment between and across countries, levels of government, governance mechanisms, and across the implementation continuum, all of which is critical to harnessing the combined strengths of the global development frameworks. In the specific context of disaster risk reduction, coherence and integration is the primary policy direction for the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as stated in the Asia Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework. ESCAP is assisting the Asia-Pacific 's initiatives to ensure coherence across the various agendas for disaster risk reduction and resilience, by providing concrete policy content to what coherence entails and how to operationalize it.

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Regional Learning Platform  

ESCAP has been convening a Regional Learning Platform (RLP) series on policy coherence for disaster risk reduction and resilience annually since 2016. The RLP in 2016 introduced policy coherence as a comprehensive repose to the global development frameworks. In 2017, the RLP provided opportunities for senior policy makers to exchange emerging best practices on coherence at across various policy domains such as climate change adaptation and agriculture.

The RLP aims to further build the capacity of participants to provide analytical support to the process of achieving coherence in their respective countries through innovative and evidence-based approaches. In addition to sharing good practices, the learning platform will present innovative tools and approaches, such as the systems approach to prioritizing development investments, understanding the risk transmission mechanism across the SDG goals and targets, ex-ante multi-sector risk assessment, and measuring risk and resilience for planning and investments.

Further information can be found here.

The ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness

The ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness was established in 2005, originally to support tsunami early warning through a multi-hazard approach. The destructive Indian Ocean Tsunami that occurred in December 2004 stressed the need for an effective regional disaster preparedness mechanism in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia. In 2010, the scope of the Fund was broadened to include overall disaster and climate preparedness within the Fund’s core areas of support. The Fund contributes to narrowing the capacity gaps in the region and ensures the development of an integrated regional early warning system. 

Under the great support and guidance from ESCAP and WMO, and the close cooperation from Secretariats of the Typhoon Committee and the Panel of Tropical Cyclones, a series of international/regional organizations, beneficiary countries and targets groups, the project of Synergized Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) for Coastal Multi-Hazards Early Warning System (hereinafter referred to as “SSOP-I”) conducted successfully the proposed activities and achieved the expected outputs including compiling the Manual/Handbook of Synergized Standard Operating Procedures for Coastal Multi-Hazards Early Warning System. The successful SSOP-I project is regarded as an excellent example on the cooperation on promoting the capacity building of multi-hazards early warning among two regional bodies. 

The SSOP Phase II is proposed to be mainly focused on the training on how to establish an appropriate standard operating procedure (SOP) based on the published SSOP Manual and on promoting the Typhoon Committee and the Panel of Tropical Cyclones Members' capacity building on Multi-hazards Risk early waning based on existing technical achievement for National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) in proposed beneficiary countries.

Further information on the ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness can be found here.

Further information on the projects of the ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness can be found here.

Tools and Methodologies

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ESCAP Statistical Database

Browse, tabulate and download data for any of the 350 indicators (disaggregated into 1200 data series) contained in the database. Navigate through the 16 domains (demographic trends, health, education, poverty, gender, energy and natural resources, disasters, environment, GDP, labour, trade, financing, science, technology and innovation, connectivity, governance, and insecurity) and then sub-domains to select the indicator of your choice. 

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PLACARD

The PLACARD project has just launched the Connectivity Hub, a new “search and discovery” tool that helps planners, decision-makers, researchers, policymakers, students, and interested citizens to find knowledge and organisations working on climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) issues.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience