Disasters know no borders. That sentiment rang clearly among the national and international experts who gathered at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa for the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) 2023 Multi-Hazards Workshop. Held February 21–23, participants explored ways to improve disaster risk management capacity through localization in Asia and the Pacific.
“This workshop underscores the significant role that local governments and communities play when dealing with disasters,” said UH Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno. “Involving these groups, particularly local emergency response practitioners, in the development of disaster risk reduction preparedness strategies and early response efforts for their regions will result in actionable plans that are better adapted and responsive to the needs of each area.”
The workshop focused on the group’s experiences and research in four critical areas: emergency response, all-hazards approach, early warning risk communication and inclusive disaster risk reduction (DRR). Top outcomes from the meeting include these findings:
- Investment is critical: DRR is an investment. Exchanges that bring together all parties (local communities, first responders, military, academia and government) are important to developing relationships and trust that are critical to success during times of disaster.
- Comprehensive approaches are key: All-hazards approaches that integrate local and Indigenous knowledge provide highly beneficial frameworks to respond effectively as disasters become increasingly complex.
- Grassroots efforts are a critical component to risk reduction and mitigation: While technologies are highly valuable and provide early warnings in the event of a disaster, the “last mile” must rely on the preparedness of local communities, cultural practitioners and volunteerism.
- The most vulnerable suffer: The most vulnerable continue to suffer disproportionately in the event of a disaster. New methods are required to address the needs of women, children, elderly, disabled and low-income individuals.
- Data-sharing and new technologies improve effectiveness of response: Data-sharing and new technologies of AI may be able to assist people in responding more effectively in times of disaster.
- Case studies may provide the key to localization: Identifying case studies across communities within APRU’s region that highlight successful practices will go a long way in developing and modeling innovative solutions.
The workshop hosted more than 35 attendees from Australia, The Bahamas, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa, Singapore and the United States. In addition to breakout sessions, participants engaged in an interactive mass-tsunami mock press conference at the UH Mānoa Digital Studios, where journalism students interviewed workshop participants as the simulation unfolded. They also visited the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM), NOAA and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
APRU is a network of leading universities linking the Americas, Asia and Australasia. It brings together thought leaders, researchers and policy-makers to exchange ideas and collaborate on practical solutions to the challenges of the 21st century.
The APRU 2023 Multi-Hazards Workshop was made possible by support from lead sponsor Tokio Marine Group and CFE-DM. Since its establishment in 1879 as Japan’s first insurance company, Tokio Marine Group has expanded its business globally from the domestic non-life insurance business to the life insurance business and the international insurance business. It consists of Tokio Marine Holdings and its subsidiaries, and affiliates located worldwide, operating extensively in the non-life insurance business, life insurance business, and financial and general businesses.
“Disaster resilience and climate action are priority issues for Tokio Marine Group,” said Mark Yoda, chairman and CEO of First Insurance Company of Hawaiʻi, a member of Tokio Marine North America’s group of companies. “Our goal is to work with the world’s leading experts to create a global sustainable society where future generations can live safely and securely. We are proud to be a part of APRU’s efforts through our sponsorship of this year’s Multi-Hazards Workshop.”
CFE-DM builds crisis response capacity in U.S. and partner militaries, enhances coordination and collaboration with civilian and foreign partners, and strengthens those relationships to save lives and alleviate human suffering before, during and after humanitarian crises.