Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP100520 ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response Partnership Conference

ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response Partnership Conference
Opening Remarks by Ambassador Rod Smith
20 May 2010

The Hon Franklin Ebdalin, Philippines Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs

Major General Glenn Rabonza, Head of the National Disaster Coordinating Committee and ACDM Chairman

Mr Dhan-nan Sun-o-to, Director for Cross Sectoral Cooperation, ASEAN Secretariat

My colleague Ambassador Makoto Katsura of Japan

Mr Terje Skavdal, United Nations OCHA Regional Representative

ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management members

Colleagues from the Diplomatic community, ladies and gentlemen

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this timely and important ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response Partnership Conference and congratulations to the Government of the Philippines as Chair of ACDM for convening the conference.

Collectively, we face a complex and significant disaster management challenge in our region:

• To understand, map and prepare for a wide range of events;

• To anticipate their wide-ranging consequences on urban, rural, coastal and vulnerable settlements;

• To reduce risk through preventative actions, including raising awareness across communities and local governments; and

• To respond in a timely, effective and coordinated manner.

ASEAN Ministers and Leaders have long-recognised this need, and the disaster management mandate they have given to the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management is comprehensive and ambitious.

ASEAN members as we know have extensive and hard-won experience in responding to these challenges. This is reflected in the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response Work Program for 2010-2015 that will be discussed in some detail at this Conference.

As a neighbour, as a friend and as a strategic partner of ASEAN, Australia is pleased to participate and to continue our strong, ongoing and long term support for ASEAN priorities.

Australia has been a strong advocate for better and more coordinated disaster preparedness and disaster response, not only through our support for ASEAN, but also in APEC, United Nations fora and bilaterally. We have worked with you to strengthen your national capacities, and in times of crisis, deployed along side your relief teams to help deliver your response priorities. We welcome this partnership that will be extended through the implementation of the Work Program.

The Work Program continues separate and collective efforts to build ASEAN’s ability to manage disasters. Australia supports this and is committed to working with ASEAN members to achieve disaster-resilient nations and safer communities across Asia.

The ASEAN member countries have much to offer the wider region in terms of disaster management systems, technical capabilities and experience with engaging communities in disaster awareness and disaster response. Australia looks forward to continuing to work with ASEAN to bring its experiences to near neighbours and, in turn, draw these experiences into the learning and development that continues within ASEAN. This new effort would appropriately build on ASEAN efforts to date and the Work Program priorities and provide a more comprehensive disaster management approach in the region.

Australia congratulates the ASEAN Secretariat for bringing the Work Program to this point. We note the hard work to date will soon be overtaken by further and in some cases more difficult work to move the Program from a statement of priorities to coordinated action.

We are ready to work with the Secretariat, the Committee on Disaster Management and the Committee’s Working Group Chairs to identify, scope and implement priority activities under the Work Program.

As but one of ASEAN’s partners, Australia also looks forward to working closely with these other partners to ensure our support is effective, not duplicative, and builds our collective effort to better protect Asia’s human and economic investments.

Thank you.