This year’s ASEAN Strategic Policy on Disaster Management (SPDDM) was held on 24 August 2023, under the theme “Disaster Resilience: Understanding What Lies Ahead”. It was the concluding event of the inaugural ASEAN Disaster Management Week (ADMW) 2023. The event was organised by The ASEAN Secretariat, the AHA Centre, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, with RSIS as the knowledge partner.
The SPDDM 2023 opened with welcome remarks by Mr Pham Duc Luan, Chair of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management, Mr Eric Yap Wee Teck, Commissioner, SCDF, as well as Mr Phillipe Strub, Deputy Head of Mission, the Swiss Confederation to ASEAN. The speakers focused on the need to build partnerships and future proof disaster management in the region. The keynote discussion focused on “Building Resilience to Climate-Induced Disasters” in which speakers discussed the link between climate change and disasters, and the factors needed to build disaster resilience. Moderated by Mr Said Faisal, founder and CEO, Nexus Resilience Group, the speakers for this panel were Dr Winston Chow, Associate Professor of Urban Climate at Singapore Management University, and Ms Tiziana Bonapace, Director of Information and Communication Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division at UNESCAP.
The second discussion was a High-Level Panel Discussion on “Bridging the Gap: Enhancing Communication and Early Action for Proactive Disaster Management”. Moderated by Dr Lina Gong, Research Fellow at RSIS, the speakers for this session were Mr Hiro Nishiguchi, President of the Japan Bosai Platform; Mr. Boontham Lertsukekasem, Director General of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Thailand; and Mr. Benjamin William, Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer of Singapore Red Cross. Topics discussed during the panel included the geographical shifts in disasters due to climate change and the need to invest in faster risk communication.
The dialogue concluded with the Thematic Session on “Risk Governance and Innovative Technology in Disaster Management” in which speakers highlighted the need to move beyond the creation of new data and focus on expanding analysis capacities for pre-existing data. Moderated by Mr Ling Young Ern, Deputy Commissioner, SCDF, the speakers for this event were Ms Joanne Loh Poh Choo, Chief Technology Strategist for Esri Malaysia; Ms Veronica Gabaldon, Executive Director at the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation; Ms Aisyah Gunung, Product Head at Atma Connect; as well as Mr David Lallemant, Head of Disaster Analytics for Society Lab at Nanyang Technological University. During the Q&A sessions, several topics, including localisation, the need for early warning systems, and the role of public-private-people partnerships, were discussed. The SPDDM 2023 concluded with a summary of key topics by Prof Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, RSIS, in which she highlighted several key points that had been discussed including the increasing risk of converging disasters in the region and need for women to be regarded as equal partners in disaster management. The closing remarks delivered by Mr Lee Yam Ming, Executive Director of the AHA Centre, who reflected on the shared vulnerability in the region, the importance of the Dialogue to convene stakeholders, and the opportunities new technologies offer to find ways forward.
The SPDDM allowed stakeholders from various backgrounds to engage with each other and share their perspectives on disaster management. This enhanced the quality of discussion and paved the way for forward-looking ideas that can be used to strengthen disaster resilience in ASEAN.