Hosted by the Royal Thai Government, the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) was held in Bangkok from 22-26 June 2014, with the theme “Promoting Investments for Resilient Nations and Communities”. The objective was to assure a commitment to DRR from all participating stakeholders; ranging from national governments to civil society and international organisations. During this Conference, IUCN led a side-event and had an information booth.
Since 2005, five AMCDRRs have been organized in Asia, which have adopted declarations committing to implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 (HFA) regional strategies. The HFA is essentially a global roadmap and blueprint for DRR that was adopted by 168 UN Member States during the 2nd World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) held in Kobe, Japan in 2005.
With over 2,500 attendees and 63 represented countries, the 6th AMCDRR in Bangkok was vital, since it was the final regional inter-governmental meeting in Asia, prior to the completion of the HFA in January 2015 and the 3rd WCDR in March 2015. This year’s AMCDRR enabled participants to shape and determine the HFA2; the successor of the HFA. The AMCDRR presents an invaluable opportunity for country representatives, individual practitioners and organisations to come together and deliberate on the road ahead, in terms of disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the Asian subcontinent. The Conference also acts as a forum to exchange experiences on innovative practices and successful approaches to reduce and manage risks from disasters. On this occasion, Dr Robert Mather, Head of the Southeast Asia Group, IUCN Asia stated, “Nature-based solutions need further recognition as options for disaster risk reduction. We should start working with a local vision, and take this approach up to the national and regional levels.” The Conference encompassed the following segments – High Level Roundtables, Minister Dialogues, Technical Sessions, Plenary Sessions, HFA2 Plenary Sessions and Special Sessions, along with side-events and a Market Place. IUCN led a panel discussion side-event on 24 June, where representatives from the projects ‘Building Resilience to Climate Change – Coastal Southeast Asia’ (BCR) and ‘Ecosystems Protected Infrastructure and Communities’ (EPIC); together with Mangroves for the Future (MFF), International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM), and the Thai NGO the Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF), came together to discuss nature-based solutions to disaster risk reduction and climate change resilience-building in Asia. The side-event saw lively discussions, with participants picking up discussion points to take back to the following plenary discussion. The key point was summed up by Anshuman Saikia, Regional Programme Support Coordinator at IUCN Asia, who said, “Nature can save lives – and that is what DRR is all about.” The 6th AMCDRR provided final outcome documents consisting of a political declaration called the Bangkok Declaration on DRR; an Asia-Pacific Input Document for the post-2015 framework for DRR (HFA2); and a set of Voluntary Commitment Statements made by key stakeholder groups such as Parliamentarians, the Private Sector and the Media etc. The Bangkok Declaration commends the progress made under the HFA on capacity building, early warning systems, awareness-raising, and understanding risk. Looking ahead, the Declaration points to the need for increased attention to local resilience, scaling up public investment and utilizing public-private partnerships. The next AMCDRR is set to take place in 2015 in Sendai, Japan. Concluding the AMCDRR deliberations in Bangkok, the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms Margareta Wahlström, stated that the Declaration’s recommendations on the importance of local resilience, disaster risk-sensitive public investments, more vibrant public-private partnership, and the vital role of science in providing important and understandable risk information to communities are very encouraging. By Ria Sen