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NEWS | Nov. 13, 2014

APEC Efforts to Support Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Recovery, and Resilience

By Staff Office of the Press Secretary

In recent years, the Asia-Pacific region has endured a series of devastating natural disasters–including the China Yunnan Earthquake, Typhoon Haiyan, the 2011 Southeast Asia floods, the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the 2010 Chile Earthquake, to name a few.  APEC’s 21 member economies account for approximately 58 percent of world GDP, 52 percent of the earth's surface area, and 59 percent of the world's population – yet they experience over 70 percent of the world’s natural disasters.  These disasters take a terrible toll in lives lost and damage caused.  The economic costs of natural disasters, both at the local and national levels, can be staggering as trade decreases, supply chains are disrupted and critical infrastructure is destroyed.  In 2013 alone, the top five major disasters in the region accounted for nearly $100 billion in economic damage and resulted in over 19,000 deaths.

The international community must sustain its commitment to humanitarian response, while at the same time being resilient and quickly addressing the transition from relief to recovery.

To protect businesses, trade, economic growth, and communities from disruptions, President Obama, together with President Xi of China and the other APEC Leaders, agreed to begin developing  measures to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters:

  • Support effective public donation practices, efficient supply chain and relief operations, and speedier economic recovery in disaster-affected areas by adopting the APEC Guidelines on Appropriate Donationsthat stress four principles: monetary contributions to established relief agencies or formal disaster appeals are always the most productive public response to disasters; before items other than cash are collected, donors should confirm that there is a need; transportation is expensive and requires preplanning; and public volunteer opportunities are extremely limited and therefore those looking to volunteer should closely coordinate with relief agencies assisting with the response.
  • Facilitate the movement of emergency response personnel across borders and permit the importation, free of duty or restriction, for goods and supplies for humanitarian and emergency response efforts after disasters.
  • Operationalize a trade recovery communications mechanism, in collaboration with the World Customs Organization, to facilitate information exchange between economy governments and the private sector after a disaster.  Establishing the system and providing technical assistance to developing economies significantly improves public and private sector cargo transport coordination, including humanitarian materials, maximizing to the extent practicable the use of constrained transport systems.
  • Recognize the importance of assessing the economic value of coastal ecosystems for disaster risk reduction, response, recovery and resilience through support of an APEC funded project, led by the United States.  The economic value of goods and services from the world’s coastal ecosystems has increasingly been recognized, however it is difficult for decision makers to factor the economic benefits of coastal ecosystems on regional, national, and local levels, into policy and management decisions.  The outcome of this study will be an assessment of the potential economic value that green infrastructure in coastal ecosystems provides for disaster risk reduction and response and coastal resilience in the APEC region.
  • Welcome efforts to increase the resiliency of our supply chains by working diligently through all APEC fora to include the Seven Principles of Supply Chain Resilience in all relevant activities and programs.  The United States continues to lead APEC’s efforts to implement a five year plan to improve the resilience of the supply chain throughout the region.  In 2015, the United States will host a workshop in the Philippines to offer best practices in order to reduce supply chain vulnerabilities based on their risks and hazards.  This economy-level workshop is planned to be replicated in additional economies in subsequent years.  APEC will also begin to conduct APEC-wide workshops on the Seven Principles of Supply Chain Resilience.  In 2015 the workshop will focus on earthquake and other hazard mapping and transportation infrastructure.
  • Develop emergency response mechanisms to increase resiliency of our energy infrastructure to natural disasters and climate change.  APEC economies will expand collaborative efforts to develop emergency response mechanisms, strengthen energy infrastructure, and increase timely, relevant, and reliable data that can address both safety as well as short-term disruptions in energy supplies after disasters.
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