The stage was set and the lights were dimmed. With much anticipation and enthusiasm, the inaugural ASEAN Disaster Management Week (ADMW) was launched. Held from 21 to 24 August, under the banner of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), this conference aimed to enhance disaster management, disaster risk reduction, and disaster resilience in the ASEAN region. Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, was the Guest-of-Honour for the opening of the ADMW.
Minister Shanmugam at the opening of the ADMW. PHOTO: SCDF
Throughout the event, the ASEAN member states had several high-level discussions and engagements with their counterparts from the United Nations, academia, humanitarian organisations, and the private sector. Their mission? To chart the future of disaster management in ASEAN.
As one of the most disaster-prone regions, over 1,300 lives were lost to over 1,000 disasters in the ASEAN region last year. These heart-wrenching losses were also accompanied by a staggering monetary loss of US439 million. The message was clear: disaster management efforts in the region must stay ahead of the various challenges, in order to protect lives and safeguard livelihoods.
This year was particularly significant for the ACDM, which also commemorated its 20th anniversary during the ADMW. Since its establishment in 2003, the ACDM had provided leadership and strategic direction to ASEAN’s disaster management efforts, in the face of major disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami (2004) and the Sulawesi earthquake (2018).
The flagship event of the ADMW was the ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue on Disaster Management (SPDDM) on 24 August. During the event, the ASEAN delegates and invited experts exchanged insights on climate-induced disasters and how technology can become a gamechanger in the future of disaster management.
Invited guests on Day 1 of the ADMW. PHOTO: SCDF
Mr Said Faisal, Founder and CEO of Nexus Resilience Group, engaging the delegates during a presentation. PHOTO: SCDF
SCDF was honoured to co-organise the ADMW alongside the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), the European Union, and the Asian Development Bank. As the leading department for ADMW, SCDF’s Planning & Organisation Department (P&O) rallied its team of Liaison Officers (LOs) from the various SCDF units. Together, the LOs played an important role in programme management, venue management, event logistics, and guest hospitality. Thanks to their coordinated efforts, the ADMW was a resounding success and was well-received by the guests.
Invited guests engaged in discussion. PHOTO: SCDF
“The ADMW is significant for SCDF”, said Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Loh Jia-Tien, Senior Assistant Director, International Affairs Branch (IAB). “During SCDF’s chairmanship of the ACDM in 2021, the ASEAN Mapping Exercise was conducted to review the roles of the ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, ASEAN Centres and Entities to forge a whole-of-ASEAN approach in disaster management. The ADRF was one of the proposed platforms in which actors in the disaster management fraternity could connect and communicate on issues and foster disaster resilience. Hence, Singapore volunteered to host the inaugural ADRF, together with the annual SPDDM,” she elaborated.
Through an email interview, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ling Young Ern, DC (Future Technology and Public Safety) explained how SCDF had brought together researchers, policy makers, and practitioners through the SPDDM. This gave everyone an opportunity to share the best practices in disaster management and overcome challenges together.
“Given the complex nature and frequency of disasters in the ASEAN region, it is critical for us to view disaster management from a regional lens and forge lasting partnerships. Only through constant dialogue and collaboration, can we reduce the impact of disasters,” said DC Ling.
DC Ling Young Ern moderating a discussion during the SPDDM. PHOTO: SCDF
DC Ling, who was also a moderator at SPDDM 2023, elaborated, “The ASEAN region has a strong disaster response mechanism through the AHA Centre, which allows it to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to disasters. This is unique to ASEAN and is the result of inter-governmental partnerships over the years.”
He added, “With our expertise and thought leadership, SCDF will continue to facilitate collaboration in ASEAN, for the good of the region.”
The true spirit of One ASEAN One Response. PHOTO: SCDF