Promoting Emergency Preparedness Cooperation with ASEAN

Photograph, from L to R: Josh Cartin, US Mission to ASEAN; Judith B. Cefkin, US Embassy, Bangkok; Pol. Lt. Arthit Boonyasophat, Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Royal Thai Government; Geoff Jackson, USTDA
Photograph, from L to R: Josh Cartin, US Mission to ASEAN; Judith B. Cefkin, US Embassy, Bangkok; Pol. Lt. Arthit Boonyasophat, Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Royal Thai Government; Geoff Jackson, USTDA

Over the past two days, USTDA convened over 140 senior officials and experts from across Southeast Asia and the United States to address critical topics in disaster preparedness and response in the U.S.-ASEAN Emergency Preparedness Workshop.  The Workshop is the inaugural activity of the U.S.-ASEAN Connectivity Cooperation Initiative, which USTDA launched during President Obama’s participation in the ASEAN-U.S. Leaders Meeting held in Indonesia in November 2011.

More than 60 representatives of U.S. companies across multiple sectors participated in the workshop, from information communications technology to emergency response infrastructure engineering and manufacturing.  An equal number of representatives came from diverse government agencies and regional disaster preparedness organizations across nine ASEAN countries.

“Over the past few years, the ASEAN has worked to bring different sectors together on a common platform for disaster management,” stated ASEAN representative Larry Maramis. “The US-ASEAN Emergency Response Workshop provided us an invaluable opportunity to make important connections and gave us an insight into the private sector’s capacity for innovation.”

Disaster risk reduction and sharing of information, technology, and best practices are growing priorities in this important region that has been dramatically affected by floods and other natural disasters in recent years.  USTDA organized the Workshop to help improve regional capacities for emergency preparedness and disaster management and to promote a stronger U.S. private sector role in supporting these efforts.  Participants highlighted the need to increase emergency coordination at a national level and to expand international cooperation.

“The U.S. and ASEAN share common risks of disastrous volcanic, earthquake and storm-caused emergency events and see enormous benefits of cooperation with international partners in preparedness and response,” stated Geoff Jackson, USTDA Director for Policy and Program, at the Workshop opening session. “We hope to continue to support U.S.-ASEAN cooperation in emergency preparedness and disaster management, as well as other infrastructure areas of mutual interest targeted in the Connectivity initiative.”