TOKYO, February 16, 2011 - The World Bank and the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen cooperation and regional partnerships for disaster risk reduction, and to enhance capacity-building and knowledge-sharing in disaster prevention, mitigation and response across East Asia and the Pacific. The signing was followed by a high-level workshop indentifying the main needs in the current disaster risk management and climate change adaptation agenda, and concrete ways in which the WB and ADRC can jointly deliver expected results.
The East Asia and Pacific region is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of natural disasters such as floods, typhoons and earthquakes. Since 1997, the region has sustained 82 percent of total disaster fatalities and its population represents 85 percent of all people affected by disasters (IFRC, 2007). In the face of growing climate change pressures, the World Bank is actively supporting its clients to manage natural disasters, helping them to secure more sustainable development. With a US$1.5 billion Disaster Risk Management portfolio in East Asia and the Pacific, the World Bank provides investment lending for specific emergency response, disaster mitigation, prevention, and vulnerability reduction projects.
Founded in 1998, the ADRC focuses on disaster resilience of its 29 member countries, helping them build safer communities and develop in a sustainable way. Working with a variety of UN agencies and other international organizations and initiatives such as the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the ADRC facilitates the establishment of networks and professional exchanges. The center also receives emergency observation requests for screening and onward transmission to space agencies in the framework of Sentinel ASIA, organized by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The new cooperative arrangement between the World Bank and the ADRC will promote capacity-building and technical assistance in the areas of disaster prevention, mitigation and response by mobilizing technical experts within ADRC member countries and technical assistance projects. Through cooperation with relevant stakeholders across East Asia and the Pacific, the Memorandum seeks to encourage knowledge exchange and foster activities and projects related for instance to early warning systems and retrofitting of schools and hospitals, both areas in which Japan is a global leader. Dr. Shigeru Itoh, the ADRC chairman says: “At the 4th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Reduction in October 2010, countries across Asia and international and regional organizations adopted the Incheon Declaration which clearly calls for actions raising awareness and building capacity for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. This Memorandum between the World Bank and ADRC is a step forward in building up the region’s capacity for disaster risk management and increased cooperation with regional actors, including the Government of Japan and Japan International Cooperation Agency.” Mr. Tomoya Nagai, Director for Disaster Preparedness and International Cooperation, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan says: “The ADRC has built up good co-operative relationships with many national disaster management organizations in Asia. We expect that this new partnership between the World Bank and the ADRC will further contribute to reduction of disaster risks in Asian countries by making good use of Japan’s experiences, expertise and technologies”.
The World Bank is an integral part of the evolving global climate adaptation financing architecture. Strengthened cooperation with the ADRC provides a further step ahead in WB’s increased efforts to reduce climate change effects and natural disaster impact on developing economies in Asia and the Pacific. Mr. James W. Adams, World Bank’s Vice President, East Asia and the Pacific, says: “This Memorandum is an important building block in World Bank’s active engagement in the East Asian and Pacific region through strong partnership with regional organizations and national governments on all levels.”