PH to host int’l post-‘Yolanda’ meet
MANILA, Philippines—Top leaders, experts and officials of disaster risk reduction and management agencies from Asia and Europe are meeting in the Philippines next week in a conference that is meant to draw lessons from Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) on how the world can prepare for future mega-disasters.
The Philippines will host the Asia Europe Meeting’s (ASEM) Manila Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) from June 4 to 6, an event expected to gather some 140 senior government officials, scientists, academics, leaders of business and nongovernment organizations and representatives of regional and international organizations from 36 of the 51 ASEM partner nations, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin will lead six Cabinet and five sub-Cabinet level speakers during the event.
Kristalina Georgieva, the EU commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis, and Margareta Wahlstrom, the UN Secretary General’s special representative for disaster risk reduction, will also be taking part in the conference.
The conference, with the theme “Post-Haiyan-—A Way Forward,” is an initiative of the Philippines with the goal of engaging Asian and European leaders in a collective reflection on best practices in mitigating the impact of disasters and rebuilding in the wake of major calamities.
“We wanted to pay tribute to the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda and to recognize the vaunted resiliency of the people of eastern, central and western Visayas and other affected provinces. We recognize their will to rise up from the devastation and loss wrought by the strongest typhoon ever recorded and carry on with their lives,” conference chair Maria Zeneida Angara Collinson, DFA assistant secretary for European affairs, told a press briefing on Thursday.
Yolanda, which killed more than 6,000 people and left a path of destruction across the Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013, is one of the worst disasters to have hit the Philippines. Nearly seven months after, government and local and international NGO partners are continuing to address the survivors’ basic needs while pursuing a recovery plan.
The conference will start with a day visit to Tacloban City, Tanauan and Palo in Leyte, among areas worst hit by the typhoon. About half the conference participants are scheduled to visit the Bislig Elementary School and a resettlement site in Barangay (village) Pago, and meet with local officials, including Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez and Leyte Gov. Dominic Petilla.
In Manila, participants will have a chance to “reflect on their roles in the prevention of and response to disasters, as well as their contribution to recovery and rehabilitation efforts,” the DFA said.
They will also hold discussions on “best practices, innovation and technology for disaster risk reduction and management, as well as how best to reconstruct and rehabilitate devastated areas” in four working groups to be chaired by the Philippines, the European Union, Switzerland and Japan.
The conference is also aimed at boosting collaboration between Asia and Europe on disaster risk reduction and management and introducing “innovation, technology, systems and services in disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery and rehabilitation and harness the private sector and scientific community,” said Collinson.
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