October 13, 2014
The conference has a theme of “improving trust and cooperation for more effective humanitarian responses”. The attendees are drawn from a diverse range of country representatives and humanitarian organisations.
We are pleased to meet again with our colleagues from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, the Office of Civil Defence, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Health.
The conference was opened with a candid keynote speech from Senator “Dinky” Soliman, Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippines, who highlighted the importance of building trusted and effective relationships between nation states and the humanitarian aid community before disasters strike. Senator Soliman focused on the importance of respecting the affected nation’s capacity and capability, ensuring that response agencies do not take over decision making functions without consulting the nation state, and that financial transparency was key.
This opening session set the tone for the day, with key related themes emerging, and a focus throughout on respecting affected nation capacity, knowledge and context. Other speakers flagged the importance of having well-established protocols for communication, agreed responses and financial management, with these put in place before a disaster, and adhered to during and after the response phase. The urgent need to update the governance system surrounding response to disasters was also raised, with the timeline of the May 2016 conference (http://www.worldhumanitariansummit.org) as a pathway to initiating this change.
There was a call for a smoother transition between the response and recovery phases and discussion on the need for regionally and nationally-appropriate approaches to disaster response, based on the “typology” of government capacity, of disasters, and of impact, rather than taking a “one size fits all” way of working.
We heard from Ed Schenkenberg van Mierop, former CEO of DARA and now Executive Director of HERE – Geneva, a think tank which produced the report which this current DRD conference is based upon. This report states 3 core themes which are the subject of workshops and policy discussions over these 2 days. The themes are:
These conference themes align well with Rescue Global’s CaDRA initiative (http://www.rescueglobal.org/about-us/cadra/), which aims to bring together different actors across the government, military, academic, private and NGO sectors with the aim of building capacity and resilience, through a collaborative model.