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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

24 June 2021


Dr. Eden Woon, President, Asian Institute of Technology,

Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to address this International Symposium.  

I am pleased to strengthen our ongoing partnership with AIT through the memorandum of understanding (MoU) that we signed in April.

This MoU will enhance cooperation across several joint areas of expertise including disaster risk reduction, preparedness, mitigation and management.

With the wide-ranging implications of COVID-19 and the threat of climate change looming in the background, partnerships such as ours will be vital to build back better with resilience.

Ladies and gentlemen,

COVID-19 has given us new perspectives on how to better anticipate the simultaneous impacts of cascading risks, weave more flexible and resilient social and economic systems, and build back better post-pandemic.

So, addressing climate change, its impacts on natural and biological hazards and the systemic risks stemming from the disaster-health-climate nexus has to be a foundation of resilient strategies in the post-pandemic world.

Recognizing the emerging disaster-health-climate risk nexus, the 77th session of the Commission requested the secretariat to promote regional cooperation to implement the health aspects of the Sendai Framework, including those reflected in the Bangkok Principles.

ESCAP is already working with member States to discuss solutions to build resilience to cascading risks and we look forward to partnering with AIT to support countries in the region.

In this context, I would like to share four policy messages that can make the post-pandemic world more resilient and adaptive to multiple and interconnected shocks.

The first policy issue is the intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic with climate extremes and other biological hazards means that future disaster planning will need to engage with more complex and dynamic scenarios.

ESCAP’s forthcoming Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2021 will present cascading risks and complex scenarios and show how this has reshaped and extended the disaster riskscape across the region.  

Second, the development of frontier technologies that higher learning institutions like AIT promote hold huge promise.

We must use and widen the applications of artificial intelligence, deep learning and GIS-based modelling in the service of marginal and vulnerable populations.

Managing climate and health disasters simultaneously over the past year has also shown the importance of the technological advances made in climate services.

These have to be applied for integrated public health and disaster management strategies.

Third, additional investments in integrated disaster-health early warning systems, open science policy forums to democratize technology knowledge, and an established ecosystem to scale up innovations will yield large dividends.

These systems need to be designed more comprehensively to deal with the new riskscape.

Fourth, is the need to double down on cooperation efforts because COVID-19 has shown that disasters know no boundaries.

Working with multiple stakeholders, we have an opportunity to operationalize the disaster and health aspects of the Sendai Framework and the Bangkok Principles through a regional strategy.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to inform you that ESCAP’s Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction, which meets later this year from 25 to 27 August, is expected to make key decisions on scaling-up cooperation frameworks to manage cascading risks.

In conjunction with the Committee, ESCAP is also hosting its third Disaster Resilience Week.

I welcome the opportunity to work jointly with AIT in promoting these initiatives, and warmly invite you all to participate and contribute to our Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network partnership.

I wish you a very successful Symposium.

Thank you very much  

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