Dr. Puji Pujiono, the Founder and Senior Adviser of the Pujiono Centre and now a businessman, is one of the ASEAN region’s most respected and renowned disaster management experts. His reputation in the humanitarian and disaster management fields is acclaimed across regions from his works with numerous United Nations agencies, the ASEAN Secretariat, and organisations such as the Indonesian Red Cross to name just a few. A social worker by training and profession, Dr. Pujiono was naturally drawn into the disaster risk management sector through his firm belief and passion in humankind’s resilience to overcome adversities and great challenges.
It was Dr. Pujiono’s work with the UN Refugee Agency in the early 2000’s that introduced him to the ASEAN structure. “It was at the conclusion of the first emergency preparedness training in Indonesia that I saw potential to sow the seed for regional cooperation in disaster management” he says. In one of the then-obscure provisions in the 1976 ASEAN Declaration on Mutual Assistance on Natural Disasters, he found content regarding Member States’ commitment to assist other Member States that are in distress. Dr. Pujiono tells us that during a session of the ASEAN Experts Group Meeting on Disaster Management, he put forward three hard-to-resist proposals. “The resources to meet every six months instead of every two years, my own expertise to support the group, and my own professional networking to connect ASEAN with the rest of the world of disaster management….and they jumped at it”, he recalls.
Within the 18 months following that meeting, the infrastructure for ASEAN regional cooperation was instituted, that included the first ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management, a full-fledged ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), ASEAN Regional Programme on Disaster Management (ARPDM), and a draft regional agreement. The pivotal Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 2004 and the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Hyogo, Japan, in early 2005 presented the unprecedented momentum to accelerate the draft into what is now known as the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER). The Agreement sparked the idea to establish the AHA Centre, and since then has seen ASEAN develop to be among the leaders of disaster risk management actors across the world.
While reminiscing about his roles in the formative years of ASEAN’s tremendous progress in disaster management, Dr. Pujiono’s greatest passion is for future efforts and opportunities. Now that disaster management has become commonplace among ASEAN governments and communities, as they move towards attaining ASEAN integration, the challenge is how to turn such high-level regional political engagement into real national and agency-level From his past work as the Head of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) based in Kobe, Japan, with UNDP Headquarters in Geneva, as well as in the field and in other roles, Dr. Pujiono has witnessed the value that the AHA Centre has in developing and integrating real commitments from parties within and external to ASEAN.
“The AHA Centre provides plenty of opportunity for all parties to share and pool resources, strengths and capacities, with the ultimate goal of making ASEAN a stronger region” he says.
Alongside his new foray into the business world, Dr. Pujiono has also led the transformation of the Pujiono Centre into a regional disaster knowledge platform, while also providing technical assistance to the revision of the disaster management legislation in the Indonesian Parliament, and engaging as a businessman in the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network Task Force on Disaster and Climate Risk Reduction.
From these new vantage points, he recognises that the value of the AHA Centre as the key coordinating body of disaster management in ASEAN is not only focusing on coordinating the disaster response parties. He stands ready to help the Centre rally the wider range of stakeholders to engage across the wider spectrum of disaster management as mandated by the AADMER. This would uniquely positon the AHA Centre as the nexus of ASEAN integration in term of strengthening resilience for sustainable development; that is from risk prevention, risk reduction, response, to recovery. Dr. Pujiono also looks forward to AHA Centre’s increased engagement on a global scale.
“I see AHA Centre solidifying its unique characteristics to be truly ASEAN; a champion that is distinct from the UN, distinct from its international partners, and to be one of the world’s leaders in disaster management”.
Written by : Christella Feni, William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre, Personal archive.
THE 8th MEETING OF
THE GOVERNING BOARD OF THE AHA CENTRE
The latest series of meetings of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) and the Governing Board of the AHA Centre focused towards the continuing vision of ASEAN nations to become global leaders in disaster management. The meetings discussed a number of ongoing initiatives, as well as past achievements in disaster management, alongside the future disaster management plans for the ASEAN region.
This integral series of meetings was officially opened by Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Dato’ Seri Dr. Wan Azizah binti Wan Ismail, who commended ASEAN on its various achievements in disaster management, while also reiterating the work that still must be done. She highlighted particular concerns regarding the plight of women during disaster situations, calling on ASEAN nations to continue efforts to mainstream gender within disaster management efforts.
Achievements highlighted by the Governing Board included the decision that the AHA Centre would provide humanitarian assistance support to the survivors of human-induced disasters. Throughout 2017, and continuing into 2018, the AHA Centre provided humanitarian assistance to displaced populations in Marawi, the Philippines and the Rakhine state, Myanmar. This evidenced the AHA Centre’s efforts to ‘go the extra mile’, as the original mandate of the AHA Centre focuses on providing assistance to victims of natural disasters. In this situation however, the AHA Centre recognised the need to be adaptable and flexible in recognition of the ever-evolving landscape and increasing complexity of disaster management in the region.
During the meeting, ASEAN nations also reaffirmed their commitment to support the operationalisation of One ASEAN One Response Declaration – signed in 2016 – that calls for an increase in speed, scale and solidarity of ASEAN collective response to major disaster within and outside the ASEAN region. The AHA Centre, as the operational engine of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), has taken a number of initiatives to further enhance the operationalisation of the Declaration, including the formulation of the ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan (AJDRP).
Another highlight from the meetings were the various initiatives to improve the capacity of the disaster professionals in the region through various capacity building activities, including the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) training, as well as the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme. In addition to this, ASEAN is currently working to kick-start the ASEAN Standards and Certification for Experts in Disaster Management (ASCEND). Through this programme, ASEAN aims to set common standards and qualifications for disaster management professionals, as well as develop a standard training curriculum. By agreeing on common standards, ASEAN will ensure the availability of qualified disaster management professionals in the region, further supporting the vision of ASEAN becoming a global leader in disaster management.
On the side-lines of the event, the Governing Board also witnessed the signing of three Memoranda of Intent (MoI) between the AHA Centre and key strategic partners – namely MERCY Malaysia, RedR Australia and MapAction.
These MoI signings signify the commitment between AHA Centre and the partners to further strengthen, compliment and support each other in areas of mutual interest on disaster management. Several areas covered under the MoIs include knowledge exchange and management, innovation and joint fundraising efforts, disaster monitoring and analysis, and recovery.
All of these were discussed during the 32nd Meeting of the ACDM and other related meetings that took place from the 26th to the 28th of June 2018, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This also included the 8th Meeting of the Governing Board of the AHA Centre on the 27th of June, the 9th Meeting of the Joint Task Force to Promote Synergy Other Relevant ASEAN Bodies on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), and the 5th ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Partnership Conference. During this event, the AHA Centre also presented its 2017 Annual Report, which documents the progress, achievements, and plans for further enhancement of the roles and responsibility of the AHA Centre.
Written by: Carla Budiarto, Dipo Summa | Photo: AHA Centre
ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ONE ASEAN ONE RESPONSE
Remaining focused on responding to natural disasters in the ASEAN region, alongside planning for facilitating potential collective ASEAN responses outside of the region form the key recommendations for the AHA Centre. These points were deliberated by participants of the ASEAN Senior Official Multi-Sectoral Workshop on One ASEAN One Response, organised by the ASEAN Secretariat, from the 27th to 28th of March 2018. Representatives from a wide range of ASEAN sectoral bodies attended the workshop, including from the Country Permanent Representatives (CPR), the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), representatives from the Senior Official Meeting (SOM), ASEAN Defense Senior Official Meeting (ADSOM), Senior Official Meeting on Health Development (SOMHD), Senior Official Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), as well as other relevant ASEAN entities and partners.
The principal purpose of this meeting–as highlighted by the ASEAN Secretary-General H.E. Lim Jock Hoi during his opening address–was to engage the views of a range of stakeholders in more prominently defining the functions of the Declaration, as well as providing clarity to requirements for current and future humanitarian challenges faced by the ASEAN region.
The One ASEAN One Response Declaration, signed by the ASEAN Leaders in 2016, reaffirms the commitment of ASEAN nations to respond collectively to major disasters in the region as one, in order to achieve faster speed, greater resources and stronger coordination. It also reaffirms the position of the AHA Centre as the primary regional coordinating agency on disaster management and emergency response, as well as tasks the AHA Centre to establish coordination mechanisms with other East Asian Summit (EAS) participating countries to enable them to provide assistance to ASEAN countries affected by disasters. The Declaration also envisions a future where ASEAN countries can collectively provide assistance to countries outside of the ASEAN region, and tasks the AHA Centre with preparing for such engagement.
The AHA Centre used this opportunity to update workshop participants on recent progress made by the AHA Centre in operationalising the One ASEAN One Response Declaration. The Director of Operations of the AHA Centre, Arnel Capili, presented a range of tools and concepts that the AHA Centre has developed throughout recent years, supported by strategic guidance from the ACDM. Such processes, amongst others, include the Joint Operations and Coordination Centre of ASEAN (JOCCA), the Web Emergency Operation Centre (WebEOC), and the Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS). However, the most important of all is the ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan (AJDRP), which contains a list of earmarked assets and capacities of ASEAN Member States that may be voluntarily mobilised to support countries affected by disaster.
The operational focus of the AHA Centre also formed a key subject of discussion during the workshop, with many participants seeking clarification on the AHA Centre’s future role responding to human-induced disasters, as an addition to natural disaster response. Participants finally agreed that AHA Centre should remain focused on natural disasters, with potential human-induced disaster response to be decided on case-by-case basis and with limited focus only on providing immediate humanitarian assistance in such cases. All the points of discussion were summarised into a 16-point recommendation list to be presented to the next meeting of the ACDM in June 2018.
The Executive Director of the AHA Centre, Adelina Kamal, thanked all the ASEAN Member States for their continued and ongoing support for the AHA Centre. She nevertheless highlighted that there is still much work to do, including increasing the contribution of other sectors in ASEAN for the AJDRP, as well as pushing for broadened participation of the private sector and civil society in the AJDRP.
The AHA Centre launched and introduced a new handbook titled “Operationalising One ASEAN One Response: Speed, Scale, Solidarity” at the workshop, which serves as a reference for operationalising One ASEAN One Response.
Written by : Dipo Summa | Photo : AHA Centre/Shintya Kurniawan, ASEAN Secretariat
H.E. Ursula Mueller
United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator
IN EARLY APRIL 2018, THE AHA CENTRE HAD THE HONOUR OF MEETING H.E. URSULA MUELLER, THE UN’S ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS AND DEPUTY EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR, WHO HAS BEEN A STRONG SUPPORTER OF GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN AND DEVELOPMENT AFFAIRS FOR OVER 30 YEARS. MS. MUELLER HAS DEVELOPED AN EXTENSIVE RANGE OF EXPERIENCES IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, THROUGH HER PREVIOUS ROLES AS GERMANY’S CIVIL COORDINATOR IN KOSOVO, GERMANY’S SPECIAL ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL AT GERMANY’S MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AND DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF GERMANY’S MINISTRY OF ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT.
She has also served as a member of the Advisory Board of the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), as well as to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA). Furthermore, her leadership in the role German Executive Director to the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank Group between 2014 to 2017, resulted in stronger ties between the World Bank and the United Nations (UN).
Having the opportunity to engage with Assistant Secretary-General Mueller during her visit to the home of One ASEAN One Response in Jakarta, the Column’s editorial team gained valuable insights on regional and international cooperation for the provision humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian affairs partnership between ASEAN and the UN has progressed throughout the past 10 years, particularly after the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar during 2008. Ms. Mueller stressed that ASEAN, the UN, and other global humanitarian stakeholders can deliver better results through working together.
During the discussion, Ms. Mueller highlighted the key strength of disaster management in the ASEAN region – namely the presence of a formal mandate, agreed-upon by all Member States. “You have a platform in which ten leaders have signed the Declaration on One ASEAN One Response. It gives you a very strong mandate to be relevant,” she said. “However, delivering on that mandate requires political support, financial support, and resources. Not only financial resources, but also relevant skills and standards that you can develop further through training.”
Ms. Mueller spoke about the importance of balanced partnerships, partnerships that suit the needs and context of both parties. She mentioned that fostering partnerships does not necessarily mean saying “yes” at every opportunity, but that often the real strength of a durable partnership can be knowing when it is appropriate to say “no” while, at the same time working together to find the best solutions to address humanitarian needs.
It is in the context of growing trust and partnership that the AHA Centre continues to work closely with UNOCHA to facilitate induction courses for the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) – as part of the ASEAN-ERAT Transformation Plan – which links closely to the curriculum of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC). As the international and regional humanitarian systems continue to develop, the need for coherence and interoperability between the coordination mechanisms managed at these various levels will be essential if we are to fulfil our collective mandate of meeting people’s needs by supporting the lead role played by governments. The priority must be that our respective processes and mechanisms complement, but do not duplicate each other, while assuring the ongoing safeguarding of the universally agreed humanitarian principles.
With regard to collective emergency response and the coordination roles of entities such as the AHA Centre and UNOCHA, ASG Mueller believes that preventative measures are more effective than a purely reactive approach. Thus, investing in early warning systems and preparedness should be considered as a top priority for the ASEAN region. Such investment will enable early action and improved coordinated responses at the regional level and support collective and synergised engagement in broader humanitarian challenges, including climate change, migration, drought, urbanisation, and human-induced disasters that cause displacement and human suffering.
Ms. Mueller is also a member of the International Gender Champions network – a group comprised of male and female leaders who aim to deconstruct gender barriers and establish gender equality through their leadership capacity. “It is important that we have the support of the men who are in positions of power,” she stated. “The Secretary-General of the UN has approved a gender parity strategy, which he is very committed to. Through women’s empowerment measures, we aim to achieve gender parity by 2028, as there is strong evidence that women’s engagement in peace-building and peacekeeping operations can positively impact the achievement of solutions.”
“In my own experience, in order to break the glass ceiling, you have to be professional, true to your values, also make your own contributions known” H.E. Mueller continued. “Your contribution to solving an issue deserves recognition, but you have to also be humble enough to know that it is not about yourself. You may be frustrated, but stay optimistic, realistic, and never give up,” Ms. Mueller stated, while sharing her tips as a leading woman in the humanitarian network.
Written by : Shintya Kurniawan | Photo: AHA Centre, United Nations