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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

05 November 2021


Excellencies, distinguished participants,

It’s my pleasure to open this year’s Advisory Council Meeting of the ESCAP Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness, which takes place on World Tsunami Awareness Day.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Council members for this term: India, Japan, Switzerland and Thailand. I take the occasion to warmly welcome Italy, as the most recent member of the Council, while also expressing my deep appreciation for the leadership and commitment shown by Italy in addressing these challenges of our time.

I also welcome all observers and partners present today.

Over the past years, disasters in the region have been unprecedented in terms of the complexity of risk.

Disasters have posed challenges even for countries with robust disaster management systems. Notwithstanding, the emerging lessons provide valuable insights into how south-south and triangular cooperation can help provide solutions by scaling-up the application of science and technology innovations, notably digital and space applications.

In August this year, the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction called for a scale-up of regional and subregional cooperation strategies for integrated, multi-hazard early warning to complement national efforts for SDG implementation.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

Through its current strategy, the Trust Fund is pursuing a programmatic approach for future people-centric investments, working more closely and continuously with key regional cooperation partners.

Several successful initiatives have emerged from Trust Fund-supported projects that lend themselves to continuation in a phased approach. Two recent Trust Fund projects can illustrate:

•    The first, Project 27, was implemented through RIMES and WMO. It contributed to the establishment of seasonal climate forums with multi-hazard scope in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Samoa that seek to leave no one behind. These experiences could be expanded to additional Pacific SIDS.

•    The second, Project 29, was implemented by UNESCO-IOC. It is improving tsunami early warning and preparedness for people living in the Northwest Indian Ocean. With the last tsunami rapidly fading from the living memory of people resident in the area, this is a relatively neglected aspect. Today, this part of the Indian Ocean is even more vulnerable to the threat of nearshore tsunamis than in 1945.

Both projects feature a phased approach, offering scope for funding support for a second phase. We look forward to receiving the Advisory Council’s guidance on these matters today.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

The Trust Fund’s investments have helped to build resilience and share good practices. However, in the Asia Pacific region, access to early warning is still not universal, and initial investments made in early warning systems have often not been followed up with investments in maintenance.

To commemorate today’s World Tsunami Awareness Day, I invite you to join a webinar dedicated to this year’s theme for the International Day for Disaster Reduction on Target F of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: “Substantially enhance international cooperation to developing countries,” which is being organized by UNDRR, UNDP, UNESCO-IOC and ESCAP today at 11:00.

In closing, I would like to thank you all for your continued commitment.

Together we are building on the Trust Fund’s contributions to continuously build resilience to the changing dynamic of disasters.

Thank you.

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