ASEAN seeks private sector to play larger and more active role in regional disasters
Singapore, 19 August 2016 – In conjunction with this year’s World Humanitarian Day, Corporate Citizen Foundation (CCF) co-organised the second ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue on Disaster Management with Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre).
This year’s theme was ‘Change and Innovation: Learning from the Private Sector to Enhance Disaster Management in ASEAN’.
Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam graced the occasion as the Guest-of-Honour, along with Indonesia’s Minister for National Disaster Management Authority H.E. Willem Rampangilei and ASEAN Secretary-General H.E. Le Luong Minh.
Addressing the 120 guests from the business community and civic organisations from the ASEAN region, Minister Shanmugam said that though governments are expected and will take the lead in disaster response, the resources and expertise do not always lie with the government. Thus it makes sense for the government to partner with the private sectors with the right resources and expertise and explore how both parties can synergise during times of disaster to help those affected.
Citing an example from the 2015 Gorkha earthquake in Nepal, Minister Shanmugam added, “The Corporate Citizen Foundation of Singapore deployed its Swift Emergency Evaluation Deployment team, or SEED for short. They were equipped with body bags, stretchers and water filtration systems. SEED was one of the first few foreign teams to reach the affected areas. Their timely arrival helped the ongoing rescue and relief operations, particularly in remote areas where help was most needed.”
Three distinguished speakers from the business community – Mr. Markham Shaw, Senior Vice President of the Shaw Organisation Group; Mr. Karl Loo, CEO of ServisHero and Ms. Ivy Kamadjaja, Deputy CEO of Kamadjaja Logistics, shared their knowledge and expertise on corporate management, IT and logistics and how innovation is crucial to being competitive and relevant in the commercial realm.
At the panel discussion on ‘ASEAN’s Disaster Management Efforts with the Private Sector’, and sharing the stage with Commissioner Eric Yap (SCDF); H.E. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee (Deputy Secretary-General, ASEAN); Mr. Rene Butch Meily (President, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation) and Mr. Azmal Yahya (CE, ACASIA Communications), CCF’s Technical Advisor Hassan Ahmad reiterated the importance of engaging the private sector to better understand and appreciate the humanitarian ecosystem and challenges.
Mr Hassan Ahmad added how timeliness and appropriateness of aid are key to the effectiveness of relief to the vulnerable communities. The veteran humanitarian highlighted three main challenges in acute disaster response – accessibility, ground intelligence and coordination of assets and players. Having the right partners with appropriate assets would allow for early access to the affected grounds, make first-hand evaluations of the needs, and disseminating/broadcasting the gathered intelligence to the region as quickly and widely. This would help other incoming aid responders make informed and more accurate decisions on the types and quantities of aid to be deployed, hence avoiding duplication of efforts and wastage of unnecessary resources.
“ASEAN recognises the vital role of the private sector in facilitating innovation and forging change in disaster management and humanitarian assistance, and has buttressed that role with regional efforts through policies and frameworks that support the strong involvement of the private sector and their active and meaningful participation in disaster management and humanitarian assistance. The ASEAN Secretariat stands ready and willing to forge partnerships with the private sector, especially companies pioneering or interested in disaster management and humanitarian assistance, through mutually beneficial channels. For it is the common and shared responsibility that we, the “Citizens of ASEAN”, protect our own peoples from the adverse impact of natural disaster and environmental calamity.”
ASEAN Secretary-General, H.E. Le Luong Minh