Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP141008 - Launch of Project Agos


Message from the Australian Government:
Popularising disaster risk reduction and management
to make zero casualty a reality

Launch of Project Agos and a Conversation on
"Making #ZeroCasualty a Reality”

8 October 2014, 9:00 am – 10:30 am
Meralco Case Room, Asian Institute of Management, Makati City


  • Governor Joey Salceda, Province of Albay
  • Undersecretary Alexander Pama, Office of Civil Defense, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council
  • Assistant Secretary Raymund Liboro, Department of Science and Technology
  • Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer of Rappler
  • Partners in government, private sector and civil society
  • Colleagues from the international community
  • Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning.

I am privileged to be speaking to you today as we observe this year’s International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Australian Government takes great pleasure in its continuing partnership with the Government of the Philippines on disaster and climate risk reduction and management. Today, we are very pleased to be working with a new partner, Rappler, to popularise and communicate this agenda to a wider audience through “Project Agos: Protecting life, livelihood and investments by helping communities prepare and respond to disasters and climate change through the use of social media and technology.”

Recent typhoons and floods have brought into stark reality the need to better prepare for and respond to disasters.

I am excited and energised by the focus and underlying principles of Project Agos: that by harnessing technology, such as social media and the internet, to maximise the flow of critical data before, during, and after a disaster, Project Agos serves as an information and communications platform that invites citizens and government to help communities adapt to climate change, and be ready for disasters. I am excited by the Project’s aim to educate and empower the public to take direct action that will save lives and property.

I am sure we all have stories, lessons and experiences from disasters that have hit the country. These stories which are shared through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others), together with information and data from the Philippines’ technical agencies (such as hazard and risk maps, climate data, typhoon warnings) will serve as the backbone of Project Agos.

Popular understanding of disaster and climate risk reduction and management is essential if we are to make “zero casualty” a reality.

It seems to me that for disaster and climate risk reduction and management to be effective, it needs to be easily understood by those who manage disaster preparedness and response, and by the population at large.

Communities are better placed to be prepared for and respond to disasters, when they have an understanding of the hazards and risks that confront them, including information on emergency resources they can access. Project Agos will play an important role in meeting this need.

Project Agos and our partnership with Rappler is one of many disaster risk reduction and management activities supported by the Australian Government in the Philippines. Partnership is central to the Australian Government’s work in this area in the Philippines.

Since 2006, the Australian Government has been working with the Philippine Government and its mandated agencies , particularly the:
• Office of Civil Defense (OCD)
• Climate Change Commission (CCC)
• Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
• Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
• National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
• Housing and Land Use and Regulatory Board (HLURB)
• Agencies attached to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), such as PAGASA and PHIVOLCS
• Agencies attached to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), such as MGB and NAMRIA.

At the local level, and through our civil society partners, we support community-based disaster risk reduction and management by supporting the preparation of land use plans, disaster management plans, implementing disaster preparedness measures like early warning systems and conducting emergency and evacuation drills.

We in the Embassy are working with the Department of Interior and Local Government to assist their plans to secure the safety of informal settler families in Metro Manila living along or over dangerous waterways. This work has included:
• socio-economic profiling of informal settler families along eight major waterways, to inform relocation policies and better target social assistance measures,
• supporting communities in formulating their own people’s plans for relocation, and
• rolling out early warning systems and disaster risk reduction training to community leaders and residents.

We are also working in partnership with the Climate Change Commission, the Office of Civil Defense and other technical agencies (MGB, NAMRIA, PAGASA and PHIVOLCS) to support the generation and updating of hazard and risk information through multi-hazard mapping, risk and vulnerability assessment.
• This information and analysis is critical to effective national, regional and community planning and preparedness.
• This work has included the first ever Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology aerial survey of the Greater Metro Manila Area and development of a detailed multi-layered exposure database, which is the key input to assessing risks and planning.

Working with the Climate Change Commission and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board, Australia has supported the development of planning guidelines that integrate disaster and climate considerations into local planning and decision-making.
• Provinces across the Philippines were supported in preparing their disaster risk and vulnerability assessments.
• The reference manual and supplemental guidelines on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation integration is now being used in updating provincial, city and municipal land use plans.

Australia is also working with partners to promote disaster risk reduction and management through information, education and communication by harnessing technologies to better communicate risk information. Using readily available technologies, we have supported the Climate Change Commission in the development of a climate and exposure database that is now publicly available.

Our new partnership with one of the game-changers, innovative and pioneering international news organisation based in the Philippines will take this work to a new level. Australia is proud to work with Rappler, whose thrust is to inspire community engagement through digitally-fueled actions for social change. The Rappler leader, the incomparable Maria Ressa, is one of the most respected, most fearless, innovative and visionary Filipino journalists and writers and she is ably supported by a cadre of talented and young journalists in MovePH. So Project Agos is in good hands. There is no doubt that the private sector, working with our government partners, can play an important role in promoting and communicating disaster and climate risk reduction and management to a wider audience.

Project Agos will make information and knowledge products on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction more accessible to the public, and help empower communities to act for themselves.

In closing, we hope that all of you will engage with Project Agos and rest assured – though I’m not in Maria Ressa’s class as a user of social media - I will be tweeting about Project Agos as a key initiative so we can make zero casualty a reality!

Thank you and good morning.