Expert Group Meeting on Regional Cooperation in Early Warning for Transboundary River Basin Floods, Flash Floods and Landslides in Asia and the Pacific, 9-11 October 2017, Bangkok, Thailand
Since 1970, over 2 million lives were lost from natural disasters in Asia and the Pacific. During the same period, 6.5 billion people from the region were affected, and around US$ 1.3 trillion was lost due to disasters. Meanwhile, economic loss from disasters in the region has rapidly increased, indicating that building resilience to disasters is necessary for protecting the region’s development prospects. This close link between resilience and sustainable development is recognized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk reduction 2015-2030, as well as in ESCAP resolutions.
As documented in ESCAP’s 2015 Asian-Pacific Disaster Report, early warning plays a key role in building resilience to natural disasters. It is also an area where regional cooperation can be particularly effective. While significant progress has been achieved in strengthening regional early warning systems for tsunamis and tropical cyclones, especially since the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, critical gaps exist for other hazards, despite the technology being largely available. Specifically, countries in Asia and the Pacific have called for more regional cooperation in improving early warning systems for hazards such as transboundary river-basin floods, flash floods and landslides (Resolution 71/12). This was further stressed in Resolution 73/7, adopted during the seventy-third session of the Commission in May 2017, that underlines the need for multi-hazard early warning systems, impact-based forecasting and disaster risk assessment to strengthen regional cooperation mechanisms, as well as in Commission Report E/ESCAP/73/21 and Committee Report E/ESCAP/CDR(5)/2. The High-level Dialogue on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration in Asia and the Pacific, held in Bangkok, Thailand on 20 and 21 April 2017 recommended a regional action plan for multi-hazard early warning systems with specific focus on low capacity, high-risk countries to address the region’s shared vulnerabilities and risks.
In this regard, the expert group meeting will share perspectives on how countries in the region can capitalize on the regional cooperation experiences emanating from transboundary hazards with the objective of shaping a regional cooperation mechanism for river basin floods, flash floods and landslides. At the meeting, recent technical and scientific developments to improve early warning will be presented by experts with a focus on how regional cooperation could enhance outreach to ensure that these innovations are used to reduce the risk to communities and livelihoods.