Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP141015 - Opening of the Indian Ocean Rim Association Disaster Risk Management Workshop

Presentation by Ambassador Bill Tweddell

Message from the Australian Government:
Disaster Risk Reduction and Management can help promote sustainable economic cooperation and enable the IORA countries to build capacity to better prepare, respond and recover from natural disasters

Opening of the Indian Ocean Rim Association Disaster Risk Management Workshop

15 October 2014, 9:00 am
Diamond Hotel

Slide 1
• Good morning everyone, and thank you for inviting me to open this important workshop.

• On Monday 13 October, the world marked International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Australian Government is pleased to sponsor this timely workshop as part of the Disaster Response Dialogue Global Conference as the current Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (or as we all know it – IORA).

• As you know, the Disaster Response Dialogue aims to achieve more inclusive, principled and effective disaster management and responses.

• We are grateful to the Disaster Response Dialogue for facilitating the global discussion but we need to take this discussion down to the regional level.

• Australia appreciates your (IORA countries’) participation which will help promote and bring together the sharing of disaster risk management expertise across the IORA region.

Slide 2
• As you may know, Australia is a country prone to a multitude of natural hazards.

• Over recent years, Australia has experienced catastrophic bushfires, devastating floods and damaging cyclones and storms.

• Australia continues to cope well with natural disasters, through well established and cooperative emergency management arrangements, effective capabilities, and dedicated professional and volunteer personnel.

• And drawing on the implementation of our domestic strategy, we can share our knowledge with partners through our international aid programs.

• But we do not wait for events to occur: we take action to reduce risk, build resilience and prepare for naturally-occurring events.

• In 2011, the Council of Australian Governments launched a National Strategy for Disaster Resilience which is consistent with the UN Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), the global blueprint for disaster risk reduction action.

• The Strategy shifts the focus away from response and towards risk reduction and building resilience as a shared responsibility of individuals, communities, the private sector, civil society organisations and governments. In other words, disaster risk reduction is everybody’s business.

• Experience from developing and implementing the Australian Strategy also informs the way we integrate disaster risk reduction into Australia’s aid program.

• The Australian aid program works closely with our Attorney-General’s department, the domestic lead agency for implementation of the National Strategy, to bring Australian knowledge, skills and expertise to international fora.

• For example, we chair the intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation system that provides alerts for all Indian Ocean countries.

Slide 3
• Turning to the IORA region, we must expect more disasters.

• Whether these events are geophysical, meteorological, hydrological or climate related, scientific research shows that the number of these natural disaster events is increasing both in frequency and intensity.

• As the number of natural disaster events is increasing, the damaging impact of these events is also increasing.

• Nowhere is exposure greater than in Asia where economic growth has been disrupted by disasters ranging from earthquakes and tsunamis to cyclones and flooding.

• Furthermore, population growth, urbanisation and weak enforcement of planning codes are exposing increasing numbers of people to natural disasters.

• In the past decade, 2.2 billion people were affected by natural disasters and the associated global economic cost is estimated at US$1.5 trillion, with around US$750 billion sustained in Asia and the Pacific (according to IFRC World Disasters Report 2013).

• Australia’s leading geo-scientific agency, Geoscience Australia, also reports that in the Asia-Pacific approximately 480 million people live in earthquake risk areas, 200 million in the vicinity of volcanos, and 16 million in tsunami and storm surge areas.

• Women are more likely than men to die from natural disasters when their socioeconomic status is low (according to the World Bank, Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, Safe Strong and Resilient, 2013, pg. xxix).

• Natural hazards therefore prevent millions of people in the IORA region from breaking out of the poverty cycle.

• But that is not intended to downplay the enormous impact of disasters in countries represented here today that lie outside of Asia.

• Natural disasters disproportionately affect the poor, vulnerable and marginalised, including women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities. They are indiscriminate wherever they occur.

• However, natural hazards can avoid turning into disaster events through disaster risk reduction interventions.

• So what can we (IORA countries) do to reduce the risk of natural hazards turning into disaster events and to help build the resilience of states, communities, households and individuals?

• Building resilience is one of the six pillars of the Australian Aid Policy Framework, to protect development investments to withstand shocks, and to minimise disruption to economic activities caused by damaged assets, interrupted supply chains and workforce displacement.

• Disaster risk reduction and management is part of good governance. Governments that respond to the needs of their citizens will invest in disaster risk reduction and gain legitimacy.

• Australia is working across the region to support governments to integrate disaster risk reduction, for example: (next slide)

Slide 4
• Australia’s national and international disaster risk reduction investments save lives, prevent the loss of critical infrastructure and reduce the cost of responding to, and rebuilding after, disasters in our region

• the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction is a $67 million partnership between DFAT and the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) that aims to strengthen national and local capacity in disaster risk reduction in Indonesia.

• Australia supports the Government of Bangladesh to reduce its vulnerabilities to natural disasters and help communities adapt to climate change.

• We also assist Sri Lanka to strengthen the capacity of the National Disaster Management Centre, introduce disaster resilient construction policies and practices, and integrate climate resilient livelihood strategies.

Slide 5
• Working in collaboration to share knowledge, good practices and experience in reducing risks and responding to disasters helps to limit the impact of these naturally-occurring events and hasten recovery.

• To this end, there is much potential to build cooperation among Indian Ocean Rim countries in disaster response and risk management

• As mentioned earlier, we are here today as part of Australia’s support to promote the sharing of Disaster Risk Management (DRM) expertise across the IORA region to protect people and assets from the impacts of disasters.

• To do this, we have partnered with the Disaster Response Dialogue (DRD), a global platform that brings together governments and humanitarian organisations involved in international disaster risk management to improve trust and mutual cooperation.

• As IORA countries are a target audience of the DRD Global Conference, you have hopefully experienced two stimulating days of plenary sessions and parallel group work sessions to share lessons, highlight your regional partnerships and develop new networks.

• This half-day workshop today is about bringing IORA disaster risk management practitioners together to promote best practice, facilitate closer regional cooperation and ensure that innovation and scientific expertise are translated into practical means across the Indian Ocean rim.

• This workshop will work with you (IORA countries) to produce an IORA ‘agenda for action’ to include critical aspects of improving disaster response and DRR practices.

• The DRD Conference is also expected to provide useful insights into themes of the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and to the March 2015 Third World Conference in Disaster Risk Reduction, and I encourage IORA to be part of contributing to these global events through the IORA ‘agenda for action’.

• We see other regional groupings building arrangements on DRM as a priority in recognition of the need to do more to build a substantive regional disaster management capacity.

• DRM can be a positive cooperation opportunity amongst countries with shared interest and challenges.

• Indonesia (BNPB) and Australia (Emergency Management Australia or EMA) are leading the implementation of the 2011 East Asia Summit (EAS) disaster management initiative (endorsed by Leaders in November 2011). BNPB and EMA have engaged with all EAS National Disaster Management Organisations, including India’s National Disaster Management Authority.

• We are collaborating with the Indian National Disaster Management Authority and other EAS National Disaster Management Organisations in a range of activities:

• Key issues identified in the India’s 2012 Earthquake Risk Management workshop contributed to the development of the EAS Rapid Disaster Response Action Plan (to implement the EAS disaster management initiative) developed at the first EAS Rapid Disaster Response Workshop in Darwin in September 2013.

• Under the Action Plan, we have progressed a number of activities, including the development of the EAS Rapid Disaster Response Toolkit, a resource to quickly find information on arrangements in specific EAS countries – including known restrictions and limitations for areas such as customs and immigration.

• EAS consideration and potential adoption of the World Health Organization Foreign Medical Team (FMT) classification and registration system.

ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management Emergency Response (AADMER):
• To date, Australia has provided A$ 2.83 million to help:

• strengthen the capacity of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (the AHA Centre); and

• implement the ASEAN Secretariat’s (ASEC) Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) work plan.

• Australia is also supporting AADMER through participation in the Asian Regional Forum (ARF) Disaster Relief Exercise, a biannual exercise to synchronise effort toward effective implementation of AADMER as the common platform for disaster management in the region.

Slide 6
• Building disaster resilience needs to shift the focus away from response and towards risk reduction as a shared responsibility, as I mentioned earlier, of individuals, communities, businesses, the private sector, civil society organisations and governments – in other words, disaster risk reduction is everybody’s business.

• Disaster risks are increasing and unless we take action, disaster events will continue to cost lives, economic losses and damage to essential infrastructure and services.

• There is potential to build cooperation among Indian Ocean Rim countries in disaster response and risk management.

• Effective disaster risk reduction and management is important to governments and their people. Put simply, and as Australia experiences each year with its flood and fire seasons, if you are distracted with hazard events, taxpayer funds need to be re-allocated to respond and recover.

Slide 7
• I’ve been informed that over the last two days there has been a wealth of interesting presentations and discussions from governments, humanitarian organisations and civil society participants.

• I encourage you all to continue the momentum of your discussions today as my colleague, Mr Steve Darvill, guides this workshop to develop an IORA ‘agenda for action’ that can demonstrate how the IORA region can build on this success.

• It goes without saying that the IORA group will be pioneers in ‘regionalising’ the global agenda for action defined over the past two days.


Once again, thank you for your dedication and attendance at this important IORA workshop.

Good luck as you develop the IORA agenda for action this morning.

I will now hand you over to your workshop facilitator, Mr Steve Darvill, Director Disaster Risk Reduction, a very experienced humanitarian and disaster risk reduction subject matter expert.

Link to slides