Asia-Pacific Science and Technology Academic Advisory Group (APSTAAG) Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

CCOUC Director Prof Emily Chan and other global experts from APSTAAG convened on 26 February 2021 to provide an update on activities and projects undertaken by the group during 2020 and formulate key research priorities for 2021. This conference also served to prepare the group for the UNDRR Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in Indonesia in 2022, the first time the platform is held in the Asia Pacific Region, which will provide an important opportunity for the Asia-Pacific DRR community to share their national and regional level perspectives and push the agenda for disaster risk reduction.

Despite COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the APSTAAG community has convened numerous conferences and workshops across the region, including the virtual Asia Pacific Science and Technology Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction held in Malaysia on 15 October 2020. The National Resilience Council in the Philippines has partnered with the Australian government to provide disaster risk management training programmes for key government stakeholders in the area of science and technology, as well as leadership and governance. Fudan University in China and IRDR have opened a new International Centre of Excellence to focus on weather, climate change and public health. Experts from the Tohoku University in Japan are organising conferences in the areas of urban planning and infrastructure for disaster risk reduction. New Zealand has launched its first postgraduate programme in disaster management, which encompasses areas of humanitarian health and environmental science. The U-Inspire Alliance of Indonesia have convened conferences and seminars for young professionals in science. Experts from Mid Sweden University also presented a project “Strengthening University-Enterprise Collaboration for Resilient Communities in Asia” (SECRA), which was a collaboration between over 30 universities and institutions worldwide.

Key research priorities for disaster risk reduction in the Asia Pacific region in 2021 will centre around three themes: 1) the evolving concept of risk (systemic risk, cascading risk), and to what extent the COVID-19 pandemic has created learning opportunities for the management of biological hazards; 2) the use of novel innovation and technology in disaster risk reduction (for example, in the areas of data collection, data management and artificial intelligence), particularly areas of innovation that have undergone accelerated development as a result of the pandemic; and 3), the expansion of research into the area of health emergency and disaster risk management (Health-EDRM), bringing together disaster risk reduction with public health. Areas of research can include digital literacy, home care provision, community health, and the comparison of health outcomes between different countries, jurisdictions, and cultures.