RSIS-RHCC Humanitarian Futures Forum
Crises in the next decade and the longer future are predicted to grow significantly in magnitude and frequency and aggravated by technological, socio-economic and geopolitical factors at regional and global levels. Such possibilities give rise to the demand for organisations with humanitarian roles and responsibilities to build new expertise, capacity and partnerships with other sectors to prepare for the much more complex and uncertain future. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how a public health crisis can cause profound human, socio-economic and security consequences. It thus serves as a reminder for organisations about the need for institutional transformation to deal with future crises. Apart from drawing lessons from experience, it is essential to take an anticipatory and adaptive approach to preparing for future scenarios that will be likely see the concurrence or interface of different types of hazards at higher intensity and frequency. Against this background, those with humanitarian roles and responsibilities will need to develop the mind-set and capacity and to integrate with other sectoral organisations better to deal with the future crises.
Southeast Asia, like the rest of the planet, faces the risks of interconnected and complex threats that often have consequences well beyond the geographical region where they may initially have occurred. The region is vulnerable to the effects and consequences of climate change, such as rising sea levels, temperature rises, more frequent extreme weather events, and higher risks of a public health emergency and food crises. In addition, it faces the challenge of violence-induced humanitarian crises, cyberattacks, technological breakdowns, and the dangers of mis- and dis-information on social or other media. The difficulty in managing these potential risks is compounded by the decreasing levels of trust in multilateral processes. Therefore, the importance of examining how Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on the actors with humanitarian roles and responsibilities, can prepare for future complex crises is clear.
As Southeast Asia aims to realise the ASEAN vision 2025 on disaster management and the world strives to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the HADR programme, NTS Centre, RSIS and the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre will jointly organise a humanitarian futures forum to strengthen support systems for policy planners and decision-makers on ways to better prepare for and respond to humanitarian challenges in this decade and beyond. This forum, the third iteration of the series, will bring together local and overseas participants from the military, government agencies, academia, civil society and the private sector. It aims to facilitate the participating organisations to plan for managing ongoing crises, as well as those in our immediate and long-term future.
About the Speakers
COLONEL RICO O AMARO PA (GSC) is currently the Deputy Brigade Commander of the 802nd Infantry Brigade under the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army where he is tasked to assist the Brigade Commander in the planning, direction, and supervision of all operations of Army tactical units in its area of responsibility in Central Philippines.
COL AMARO is a seasoned combat officer and experienced Army staff at the tactical, operational as well as strategic levels of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that is heavily engaged in internal security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations. Prior to his present designation, he served as the Chief, Operations Division of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations (CMO), J7 of the AFP where he is charged to assist the Deputy Chief of Staff for CMO on matters pertaining to planning, directing, and evaluating Civil Military Operations of the Armed Forces. As Operations Chief of J7, COL AMARO was the focal officer of the AFP Civil Military Coordination Center (AFP-CMCC), an ad-hoc mechanism to integrate and synchronize the AFP HADR operations before, during and after the onslaught of Typhoon Rai (local CN: Odette) in December, 2021 that damaged Central, Western and Southern Philippines. He also served as Executive Officer of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations, G7 Philippine Army where he assists the G7 in sustaining CMO capabilities of all Philippine Army units. It was during his assignment with the G7 that Army units were immensely involved with the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic response operations.
At the operational and tactical levels, COL AMARO commanded the 4th Civil Military Operations Battalion concurrent with his position as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations, G7 of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army that covers two political regions in Southern Philippines. He was also Battalion Commander of the 30th Infantry Battalion under the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army performing internal security operations in Northern Mindanao region. The said Army battalion was the first responder performing search, rescue, retrieval, evacuation, and relief operations when the 6.7 magnitude earthquake in February 2017 damaged the Surigao and Dinagat provinces in Southern Philippines. Because of its performance, the 30th Infantry Battalion was awarded the prestigious “Gawad Kalasag” plaque – a national award for successful conduct of HADR operations.
A graduate of international standard Incident Command System (ICS) course, COL AMARO is knowledgeable on the organization, procedures, and dynamics of the Incident Command Post (ICP) and the Incident Management Team (IMT) as a facility to integrate and synchronize multi-agency actions in emergency situations. COL AMARO places primordial emphasis on the Armed Forces provision of essential support to civil authorities during calamities through commitment of all available manpower and material resources to perform search, rescue and retrieval operations, humanitarian and relief operations and recovery and reconstruction tasks in synchrony with the efforts of the national and local government agencies, international humanitarian organizations and non-government institutions.
COL AMARO started his military career as a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy in 1994 and he finished his Masters in Public Management major in Development and Security at the Development Academy of the Philippines and also completed his National Security Studies Program at the National Defense College of the Philippines. Prior to his engagement with the Humanitarian Futures Forum, he was invited as resource speaker for the Annual Meeting of the UN Consultative Group of the UN-CMCoord during the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week organized by UN-OCHA in Geneva, Switzerland on May, 2022 and discussed the AFP Civil Military Coordination Center concept as a scalable coordination mechanism in national HADR operations.
Dr David Lallament is Assistant Professor at Asian School of the Environment of Nanyang Technological University. His research interests are in hazard, vulnerability and risk modeling for all natural hazards, with a particular focus on understanding the impact of disasters on cities. He is also interested in the modeling and communication of uncertainty as it relates to disaster risk, and the translation of science into policy. He uses tools and methods from structural engineering, probabilistic hazard analysis, predictive modeling, geostatistics and other statistical methods to attempt novel and impactful research to promote resilient societies. I also work on the use of novel technologies for post-disaster damage assessment aimed at informing rapid, effective and equitable response and recovery. The multi-disciplinary and policy-oriented nature of his work has led him to build collaborations with the World Bank, the Red Cross, Google, USGS and others.
Mr Duncan McArthur is the Myanmar Programme Director of The Border Consortium. Duncan has a Masters in Development from Deakin University and 25 years of experience in humanitarian relief and rights-based development on the Thailand / Myanmar border. He currently manages a portfolio of over 30 civil society organisations and ethnic service providers coordinating food security, agriculture, natural resource management, nutrition, health care, WASH and civilian protection interventions in conflict-affected communities.
Professor Jeff Obbard is Head of the Climate Science Research Office at the Centre for Climate Research Singapore, and a Visiting Professor to the School of Water, Energy & Environment at Cranfield University in the UK. Prior to this, Jeff was a professor & director at the Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore (NUS) where he also held a joint appointment with the Agency for Science Technology & Research (A*STAR) as the Principal Scientist of its Bioenergy Programme. Whilst at NUS, Jeff led a team that received the UN Mondialogo Engineering Award for work on sustainable development in Southeast Asia. Jeff has also served as the Vice President for Science & Technology on a Royal Dutch Shell Petroleum joint-venture project in Hawaii, USA on renewable biofuels & carbon capture. He has worked in the UK and Hong Kong as a private-sector environmental consultant, and in the Middle East as Director of the Environmental Science Centre at Qatar University. Jeff is an Expert Reviewer to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Climate Change Advisor to National Youth Achievement Award Council in Singapore.
Ms Helene SKAARDAL
Prior to joining OCHA ROAP in February 2022 as the new Humanitarian Affairs Officer (Civil-Military Coordination and Access), Helene worked for the OCHA Country Office in Myanmar, leading work to strengthen humanitarian access monitoring, analysis and advocacy with a focus on Rakhine State. Prior to this, as the Head of Sub-Office for UNICEF, she was managing humanitarian programmes and emergency response in northern Rakhine, overseeing the implementation of WASH, health and nutrition, education and protection programmes. Much of this work was centered on negotiating humanitarian access and enabling the delivery of humanitarian response to conflict-affected and displaced persons, in particular the stateless Rohingya population remaining in northern Rakhine.
In her previous roles in Lebanon and Gaza in the occupied Palestinian territories, Helene was responsible for the management of a number of protection programmes and the incorporation of humanitarian principles and standards across the health, education, camp management and relief programmes of the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). She worked for more than four years on the Syria crisis response.
More recently, Helene has deployed to Ukraine and Myanmar to support access and civil-military coordination.
Helene holds a Master’s degree in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and AfricanStudies in London, and a Bachelor in International Relations from the University of Leeds, UK.
Ms Kirsten Sayers is a former lawyer and diplomat, CEO of RedR Australia, the only United Nations Standby Partner in the Asia Pacific and southern hemisphere. RedR Australia works with communities, governments and the United Nations before, during and after crises and conflict.
Kirsten has previously held senior diplomatic appointments in Paris, Bangkok, Taipei, Singapore and ASEAN. As Australia’s first Investment Commissioner to ASEAN she was appointed Australia’s Chief Negotiator and Delegation Leader to the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) Women Leaders’ Network meeting.
With deep experience in international, environmental and social governance, Kirsten is a current member of the Sphere Global Board and President of RedR USA. She was Vice President of AustCham Singapore, a board member of the Australia China Business Council, and a thought leader for Australian Business in Asia.
An Asia Literary Ambassador, Kirsten is specialised in Chinese and Indonesian law, and speaks English, Chinese, French, Swedish, Norwegian and Vietnamese to various degrees.
Mr KWOH Leong Keong is the Director of the Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) of National University of Singapore. Mr Kwoh had joined CRISP in 1992 as an Assistant Director and assumed the position of Director in 2000. Prior to that, he was Head of the Photogrammetric Section of the Singapore Mapping Unit from 1982 to 1992.
He was awarded the Colombo Plan Scholarship to pursue his Bachelor of Technology in Surveying at the South Australian Institute of Technology from 1978 to 1980 and a Public Service Division Scholarship to pursue Masters of Engineering Science in Remote Sensing degree at University of New South Wales in 1987. In 1991, he obtained the Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the Singapore Institute of Management
Mr Kwoh played a key role in the establishment of the CRISP ground station and was deeply involved in the negotiations for all its satellite data reception programmes for CRISP. He is also responsible for the continued upgrading of the facilities of the ground station and improving its operational effectiveness. He led the development of TeLEOS-1 satellite image reception and processing system, which is an in-house development of CRISP. For this contribution, CRISP, together with DSO, SARC and ST engineering was given the President’s Technology Award in 2016.
Mr Kwoh is also heavily committed to CRISP research work. His current research interests include very high resolution optical and SAR data processing, especially in Geospatial data AI, and their applications.
Ms Lynette Tan is the Chief Executive and board member of the Singapore Space and Technology Limited (SSTL). With 20 years of management and business development experience, Lynette identifies new opportunities and develops effective ways for government, companies, and individuals to partake in the growing space industry. She is managing Partner of the Space-Based Accelerator based out of Singapore, an exclusive programme with the Singapore government that assists early stage, deep tech, space start-ups.
She is the founder of Space Faculty, a space education training provider for all ages, especially from emerging countries and lower income family. She is also a founding member of Women In Aerospace.
Her work experience includes a management position in the M&A division in a global pharmaceutical company. She was awarded the Asia Pacific President Award and the GSK Spirit award. She worked in the Singapore government service as centre director in the Asia Pacific team and was actively involved a variety of industry sectors including the automotive, mining, digital media and pharmaceutical.
Lynette received her Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Stanford.
Dr Michelle IBANEZ’s experience has spanned academic, military, and government entities with an emphasis on evidenced-based policy and interagency collaboration. Ibanez is currently the Program Manager in the Applied Research and Information Sharing branch at the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM), a direct reporting unit to United States Indo-Pacific Command, with an important global mandate to support civil-military coordination and training. Her portfolio includes applied research, academic partnerships, and information sharing programs focused on disaster management capacity building for 36 partner nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
Prior to joining CFE-DM, Ibanez worked as the Senior Communications Advisor at the Data Analytics Engine at the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, leading work to strengthen research and analysis on open-source and social media exploitation and providing big data solutions to the Department of Homeland Security. Dr. Ibanez served in the United States Army as a Signal Officer and Public Affairs Officer. She led a 50-person detachment team in Afghanistan, overseeing the establishment and maintenance of a secure communications network at a Forward Operating Base. After her active duty service, Dr. Ibanez worked as a civilian for the Marine Forces Pacific as a Communications Network Operations Planner and as a defense contractor for General Dynamics developing training exercises for pre-deployment certification.
Ibanez received her Doctorate in Communication and Information Sciences from the University of Hawai‘i, and a Master of Science in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.
Ms Moana Kioa is the Principal Assistant Secretary for Disaster Risk Management of the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) at the Ministry of Meteorology Energy Information Disaster Management Environment Climate Change and Communication of Tonga.
She joined NEMO started in 2016 as an Assistant Secretary. Prior to that she spent more than a decade working for a humanitarian NGO. In NEMO, she leads the work on policy engagement and donor relation, and coordinate humanitarian response during disasters. She supported the development of the Tonga National Disaster Risk Management Bill, which has recently been endorsed by Tongan Parliament and is now awaiting the Royal assent. The Bill along with the Tonga Strategic Road map for Emergency and Disaster Risk Management are significant policy milestones.
Associate Professor Natasha Howard is an interdisciplinary health policy and systems researcher, focused primarily on low and middle-income countries. She draws primarily from sociology, social psychology, and global health/development to engage in policy-relevant research in infectious disease control in Asia and strengthening health system responses during protracted adversity (e.g., fragility, complex emergencies, displacement). Her teaching has included developing and managing a postgraduate course and modules, editing and writing textbooks, supervising doctoral and masters-level student research, and mentoring students and professionals.
Dr. Valerie Sticher is a research fellow at AI Singapore. She combines academic research with ten years’ practitioner experience to support conflict parties’ transition from war to negotiated peace. In her postdoctoral research, she investigates how artificial intelligence affects the onset and settlement of armed conflicts. She also co-leads the Remote Monitoring of Armed Conflicts research conflict, in collaboration with the EcoVision Lab and partners from the humanitarian sector.