69th Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
Building Resilience to Natural Disasters and Major Economic Crises
The 69th session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific was held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok from 25 April to 1 May 2013.
The Commission session was comprised of two parts: the senior officials segment, from 25 to 27 April 2013; and the ministerial segment, from 29 April to 1 May 2013.
Theme Study: Building Resilience to Natural Disasters and Major Economic Crises
The Asia-Pacific region has been battered in recent years by a relentless series of shocks. Some have been related to natural disasters, such as earthquakes or droughts or floods. Others, such as the 2008 financial crisis, have been caused by convulsions in global markets. Still others, such as rocketing food and energy prices, have been the result of a complex combination of shocks. The traditional approach has been to consider such events individually. This is increasingly unrealistic. Governments across the region often find themselves dealing with overlapping shocks that demand a more comprehensive and systemic approach to building resilience. Resilience in this sense means the capacity of countries to withstand, adapt to, and recover from natural disasters and major economic crises – so that their people can continue to lead the kind of life they value.
For many policymakers this is new territory: they are more accustomed to focusing on problems in particular economic or social sectors rather than treating them as systemic wholes. Even more difficult, they have to take decisive action now about events that may or may not take place. By definition, this is a step into the unknown. On the whole, human beings are not very good at assessing risks and uncertainties. This report provides a comprehensive response to addressing multiple shocks in Asia and the Pacific. It shows how people, organizations, institutions and policymakers can work together to weave resilience into economic, social and environmental policies.