The United Nations World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction: The ASEAN Commitment


Mohammad Arumbinang, Intern staff at ASEAN Studies Center UGM

Throwback in 1990’s, as remembered as the declaration of the international decade for natural disaster reduction. Nowadays, disaster risk is increasingly of global concern and its impact and actions in one region can have an impact on risks in another, and vice versa. This, compounded by increasing vulnerabilities related to changing demographic, technological and socio-economic conditions, unplanned urbanization, development within high-risk zones, under-development, environmental degradation, climate change, geological hazards, and competition for scarce resources, points to a future where disasters could increasingly threaten the world’s economy, and its population and the sustainable development of developing countries. In the past two decades, on average more than 200 million people have been affected every year by disasters. Therefore, the United Nations (UN) trough United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), comes up with World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, as a series of UN conferences focusing on disaster and climate risk management in the context of sustainable development.

The World Conference has been convened three times, with each edition to date having been hosted by Japan: in Yokohama in 1994, in Kobe in 2005 and in Sendai in 2015. The conferences bring together government officials and other stakeholders, such as NGOs, civil society organizations, local government and private sector representatives from around the world to discuss how to strengthen the sustainability of development by managing disaster and climate risks.



The Southeast Asian region is remarkably vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters which repeatedly cause devastations to both human lives and properties. Geographically, the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are located in one of the most disaster prone regions of the world. The ASEAN region sits between several tectonic plates causing earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. The region is also located in between two great oceans namely the Pacific and the Indian oceans causing seasonal typhoons and in some areas, tsunamis. The countries of the region have a history of devastating disasters that have caused economic and human losses across the region. Almost all types of natural hazards are present.

Often these disasters transcend national borders and overwhelm the capacities of individual countries to manage them. Most countries in the region have limited financial resources and physical resilience. Furthermore, the level of preparedness and prevention varies from country to country and regional cooperation does not exist to the extent necessary. Because of this high vulnerability and the relatively small size of most of the ASEAN countries, it will be more efficient and economically prudent for the countries to cooperate in the areas of civil protection, and disaster preparedness and prevention.

The Commitment?

Due to that issue, The ASEAN as the regional organization in Southeast Asia playing an importance role to building a well-prepared disaster management through join collaboration among ASEAN member by reason of humanity. Following with the 2nd of World Conference on Disaster Reduction “Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015” (HFA 2005-2015), ASEAN proposing the first legally-binding HFA-related instrument in the world named ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) and on 24 December has been ratified by all ten Member States and entered into force. It also affirms the ASEAN’s strong commitment to the HFA 2005-2015 as well as the world commitment to reduce disaster losses with regard the sustainable development. The AADMER spirit and consent is to reaffirming the ASEAN vision of disaster resilient nations and safe communities by 2015.

The AADMER set the foundation for regional cooperation, coordination, technical assistance, and resource mobilization in all aspects of disaster management and emergency response. Moving towards 2025, ASEAN will need to recognize these changes and adapt the implementation of AADMER accordingly to ensure a comprehensive and robust disaster management and emergency response system is in place. This strategic policy document outlines the directions that may be considered by ASEAN in the next 10 years, and identifies the key areas to move the implementation of AADMER forward to a people-centered, people oriented, financially sustainable, and networked approach by 2025. Three mutually-inclusive strategic elements-Institutionalization and Communications, Finance and Resource Mobilization, and Partnerships and Innovations-were identified that may guide the direction of the implementation of AADMER to 2025, with regard with The UN 3rd Word Conference, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.



Sushil Gupta et al, Synthesis Report on Ten ASEAN Countries Disaster Risk Assessment; ASEAN Disaster Risk Management Initiative, Jakarta: ASEAN Secretariat, 2010.


International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Living with Risk: A Global Review of Disaster Reduction Initiatives, Geneva: United Nations Publication, 2004.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, Geneva: UNISDR, 2015.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 2013, “ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme 2010-2015 (4th Reprint)” taken from, accessed on April 14, 2016 at 04:14 PM.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, “The World Conference” taken from, accessed on April 14, 2016 at 05:22 PM.