Jakarta (ANTARA) - APEC member economies are accelerating the implementation of robust early warning systems (EWS) to strengthen risk management and advance disaster risk reduction for all Asia-Pacific communities, including those most vulnerable to disasters, by 2027.

A recent United Nations report showed that despite fewer disasters recorded in 2022 compared to 2021, the impact of last year's disasters was more severe.

Over 140 disaster events occurred in the Asia-Pacific region in 2022, causing 7,500 deaths, affecting over 64 million people, and bringing economic damage estimated to be over US$57 billion, according to the report released by the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group on Friday.

The report emphasized the need for economies in the Asia-Pacific region to invest massively in early warning systems.

"With APEC leaders leading us to more sustainable and inclusive development, our group should contribute more to the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 and the Aotearoa Plan of Action," Co-chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group (EPWG) Yan Guan remarked.

The group seeks to build capacity in the region so that APEC member economies can better mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and natural disasters.

"Against the backdrop of mounting and cascading natural hazards, we encourage emergency management agencies to shift our policy mindset from post-disaster relief to pre-disaster prevention, from single hazard reduction to comprehensive risk management, and from reducing losses to mitigating risks," Yan remarked.

Officials, representatives from the private sector, academia, and industry leaders discussed diverse approaches to early warning systems in the APEC region and explored a regional approach to this during their meeting on Tuesday in Seattle, the United States.

Communication systems, including timely and accurate dissemination of warnings that can reach rural communities, are the key criteria for an effective early warning system.

Examples shared during the meeting include partnering with the private sector, rural communities, and domestic media, including TV, online, and radio channels, leveraging artificial intelligence and big data, as well as using open source and digital platforms.

The meeting also assessed the impact of complex emergencies and disaster shocks to the region's supply chains and ways to promote disaster risk reduction in supply chain management.

"Our ability to address emergent threats is rooted in the adaptability of our emergency management workforce and our strategic international partnerships," the United States Host Economy Representative Cynthia Spishak remarked.

To date, the EPWG has accelerated the implementation of effective disaster risk reduction and adaptive crisis management efforts across the region.

"Flexible, scalable, and adaptable organizations are best positioned to meet the demands generated by complex emergencies," Spishak remarked.

Data governance systems in the region are a key component of the discussion on strengthening the region's climate resilience.

Currently, there is no single approach to collecting, interpreting, and disseminating disaster risk data among APEC economies, and there are opportunities for cross-economy collaboration in this space.

"Every economy has put in place its own planning for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction, but I believe we will benefit from and empower ourselves by learning from each other," Yan remarked.

"I believe we all have a heart as big as our mandate—that is to work towards a region where disaster risks no longer threaten or destroy the well-being of people," she concluded.

Senior disaster management officials met in Seattle on Wednesday for the APEC Senior Disaster Management Forum chaired by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell.

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Reporter: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Editor: Anton Santoso
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