WASHINGTON, January 24, 2011 - Recognizing the increasing disaster risks due to climate change and rapid urban development, the World Bank and Korea’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on January 21 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen cooperation, and facilitate international partnership for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
The Asia Pacific region is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of natural disasters. In East Asia and Pacific alone, over the past two decades, floods, typhoons and earthquakes have affected two million people, killing nearly 90,000 and causing damages of more than US$151 billion.
NEMA was launched in 2004 as an independent national disaster management authority. Today, NEMA also supports countries in the region to develop disaster management capacities, improve on-site response systems, strengthen disaster prevention awareness and promote preventive investments. NEMA hosted the 4th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk reduction in October 2010 which formulated an Action Plan for the Incheon Regional Roadmap on Disaster Risk Reduction through Climate Change Adaptation in Asia and the Pacific.
In the face of growing challenges posed by climate change, the World Bank is taking a more strategic approach to support developing countries to manage natural disasters and help them to secure a more sustainable development. With a US$1.5 billion disaster risk management portfolio in East Asia and the Pacific alone, the World Bank provides investment lending for specific emergency response, disaster mitigation, prevention, and vulnerability reduction projects. Together with the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and its donor members, the World Bank forms an integral part of the evolving global climate adaptation financing architecture, and offers well-established strategic and operational framework to facilitate the implementation of the Incheon Action Plan.
With the Memorandum, NEMA and the World Bank aim to strengthen further their partnership in the field of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation by enhancing the capacity of relevant stakeholders across Asia and the Pacific. “We embark on a longer term partnership for reducing natural disaster risks faced by disaster prone countries in Asia and Pacific. I am confident that the partnership will be effective in implementing the Incheon Action Plan formulated by the 4th Asian Ministerial conference, in particular to promote regional hub for web-based platform for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, and the creation of a Centre of Excellence in Korea for supporting countries on disaster risk reduction” says Dr. Mr. Yeon-Soo Park, NEMA’s Administrator.
GFDRR and World Bank will closely work with the Government of Korea to provide appropriate training and leadership development orientation programs for disaster risk management professionals in the Asia Pacific region to mainstream the agenda across all development sectors. Saroj Kumar Jha, Program Manager of GFDRR, emphasized that “it is extremely important to invest in capacity development of leaders and decision-makers in the Asia Pacific region who will champion disaster risk management agenda as a developmental issue, not just limited to disaster response and recovery.”
The MOU marks a key milestone in the World Bank Group’s efforts to reduce the impact of natural disasters and climate change on developing economies in the region. Mr. James W. Adams, the World Bank’s Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific, noted that the collaboration is a "win-win-win" partnership. "It creates new opportunities for utilizing Korea’s superior experience in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and sharing it with other disaster prone countries in the region while offering a platform for Korea and the World Bank to jointly strengthen their assistance in the field,” he added.