Mission Indonesia

EU helps ASEAN, RI cope with disasters

http://www.thejakartapost.com

September 14, 2011

 

The European Union (EU), Indonesia and ASEAN are working on stronger cooperation in disaster response, disaster reduction and humanitarian aid as Southeast Asia has faced increasing numbers of natural disasters in recent years.

Visiting European Commissioner of International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, said it was important to create a deeper dialogue between the EU and ASEAN to improve the prevention and efficient management of natural disasters.

Stronger cooperation is important because the Asia Pacific, especially Indonesia, is very prone to natural hazards. “Faced with the constant threat of disasters, Indonesia has worked hard on disaster response and risk reduction; enacting new laws, establishing new institutions and initiating the creation of a regional framework for emergency response.”

“In the past 30 years, the number of recorded disasters has risen five times and their cost has soared even higher. In the same period, the Asia Pacific region suffered 91% of the world’s fatalities and 49% of the world’s damage due to natural disasters. Southeast Asia alone accounted for some 60% of these disasters.”

Georgieva said, in a lecture held in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel last Monday, that the EU, Indonesia and ASEAN had agreed on joint exercises which could reinforce the capacity to react quickly and efficiently in the event of natural disasters.

“We need to build a culture of better understanding and cooperation in information sharing and joint exercises.”

She underlined that “we have to include the negative environmental effects of economic growth in the cost-benefit calculations of the public and private sector”.

The commissioner emphasized that the problem of natural disasters is very dynamic.

“First we have to manage the growing inequality that is a by-product of rapid growth. Then we need appropriate policies to establish fast economic growth without environmental degradation and finally, how to cope with the increased frequency and intensity of disasters, especially in very densely populated urban centers.”

She said that the world needs a change of vision to incorporate sustainable development in their policies. “For every euro, rupiah or dollar invested in disaster risk reduction there is a return of four to seven times in avoided damages. Even with great growth rates, a return of 400 to 700% can hardly be ignored” she cited a recent World Bank report.