Inception Meeting to Operationalize the ASEAN Standards and Certification for Experts in Disaster Management (ASCEND) Program

Singapore, June 5th, 2018 – The U.S. Government through the ASEAN-U.S. Partnership for Good Governance, Equitable and Sustainable Development and Security (PROGRESS) project convened an inception meeting in Singapore June 4th to 5th to support the efforts of ASEAN’s Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) to operationalize ASEAN Standards and Certification for Experts in Disaster Management (ASCEND). By setting qualification standards for disaster management professionals, the U.S. Government helps ASEAN ensure there are internationally recognized disaster management experts with consistent high quality skills and expertise who can be quickly mobilized to address crises across ASEAN.

The meeting brought together stakeholders from ACDM’s Working Group for Knowledge and Innovation Management (WG-KIM) and national training centers for disaster management to discuss, better understand, and agree on the next steps to implement ASCEND. The ASCEND framework, developed and endorsed under USAID/OFDA support in 2017, served as the guiding document that lays down the structure and institutional arrangements, resources needed, and necessary steps for establishing the program.

During his opening address, Senior Assistant Commissioner Teong How Hwa, Director, Singapore Civil Defence Academy, remarked that “ASCEND will enable ASEAN Member States to establish a pool of competent disaster management professionals within their countries to effectively deal with disasters. These professionals would also contribute towards the enhancement of ASEAN’s capabilities to respond as One within the region, and perhaps beyond in the future. It is important for us to continually enhance the capabilities of our emergency responders to deal with disasters, particularly during the early onset of the disaster management cycle, to minimize the loss of lives and property.”

At the meeting, representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the AHA Centre discussed the endorsed ASCEND Roadmap 2018-2020 and agreed on the steps to be taken and their roles and responsibilities as key stakeholders. To provide a guide for future development of ASCEND, the ASEAN Secretariat gave a presentation on how the Mutual Recognition Arrangement for the ASEAN Tourism Professionals was successfully developed. Participants reviewed and discussed the list of competencies (i.e. Rapid Assessment; Humanitarian Logistics; Emergency Operations Centre; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Shelter Management) to be developed under ASCEND, considered the existing national standards and certifications for disaster management competencies, and agreed in principle to their incorporation into the ASCEND framework.