"The Southeast Asian region is among the most disaster prone area in the world. Multiple hazards frequently visit the region, including both natural and human-induced disasters. The risks are increasing and the patterns are continuously changing," said H.E. Dr. Nhim Vanda, Ph.D., during the Ministerial Public Forum of the 2015 ASEAN Day for Disaster Management (ADDM) held today.
The regional commemoration was held for two days on 9-10 October in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The event was hosted by the Royal Government of Cambodia as the current Chair of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management and the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management. It was jointly commemorated with the Cambodia National Day for Disaster Management and the International Day for Disaster Reduction.
"The growing frequency and severity of natural disasters as well as more extreme weather events in Southeast Asia have resulted in enormous cost and disruptions to the ASEAN peoples and communities, and thereby posing a threat to the region's economy and sustainability," said Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Le Luong Minh. He added that "ASEAN will have to address the disaster management issue comprehensively, such as including disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as part of the region's response to sustainable development challenges. By making our people and communities more resilient, ASEAN is building a people-oriented, people-centred Community by 2015 and beyond."
Focusing on the theme "ASEAN is Resilient as One," this year's ADDM aims to raise public awareness on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation through, among others, promotion of school safety, implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on Resilience, and introduction of One ASEAN One Response strategy. This is the 11th year that ADDM was commemorated by ASEAN, with the ASEAN Member States conducting simultaneous commemorative activities at the national level.
H.E. Dr. Nhim Vanda further said that "ASEAN countries have put high priorities on building and strengthening their capacity in disaster management through the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response or AADMER." The AADMER is the world's first regional legally-binding agreement that serves as the policy backbone and common platform for ASEAN's cooperation on disaster management. "The capacity building should also be extended to the sub-national level, local government, as well as the local community in order to build resilient nations that can cope with natural disasters," added H.E. Dr. Nhim Vanda.
The two-day event took place at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and attracted more than 1,000 participants. The activities held during ADDM commemoration included among others thematic and panel discussions on key disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation issues, a drawing competition with highlights on school resilience and an exhibition. The ADDM commemoration culminated with the conduct of a national parade and a Ministerial Public Forum graced by the Senior Minister in Charge of Special Mission and First Vice President of the National Committee for Disaster Management, the Secretary-General of ASEAN as well as the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Environment of the Royal Government of Cambodia. Representatives of other ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Secretariat, AHA Centre, United Nations, international organisations and the civil society also came to join Cambodia in this regional commemorative event.