The year 2020 was a difficult year for Southeast Asia, which faced several disasters caused by severe weather events, particularly in the Philippines and Vietnam, two Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in addition to coping with the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic (ASEAN).
Highlighting the urgent need to improve regional cooperation against disaster danger, in his address to the 37th ASEAN Summit on 12 November, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called on ASEAN Member States to strengthen ‘disaster risk reduction management cooperation to strengthen our capacities, both at national and regional level.’
Before the end of 2020, ASEAN achieved a significant milestone by implementing, on 27 November, the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme 2021-2025.
AADMER, which seeks to reduce the long-term risk of disasters in the region, entered into force in December 2009 and is unique among sub-regional agreements in that it is legally binding on the 10 Member States of ASEAN.
“The transformation of ASEAN into a disaster-resilient and adaptive region must be achieved through a multi-hazard approach to disaster management,” ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi said in a press release issued by the ASEAN Secretariat.
Ms. Mami Mizutori, the UN Secretary-Special General’s Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, praised the new work programme for its alignment with the 2015-2030 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and its emphasis on strengthening multi-hazard risk governance, noting that:
“The guiding principles on multi-hazards approach, localization, and gender and social inclusion, among others, are pioneering steps forward in the right direction to reinforce the current global discourse on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
ASEAN recognized the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) for its assistance in its announcement of the implementation of the new work programme. The Deputy Secretary-General of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Society, H.E. Kung Phoak, also thanked UNDRR for its efforts and welcomed the continued participation of the two organisations.