The Government of Switzerland has pledged USD 300,000 in contributions for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness, which serves to strengthen disaster resilience across the region.
“Multi-hazard early warning systems are a public good and continuous investments to ensure the long-term sustainability of these systems are essential in overcoming many transboundary challenges in Asia and the Pacific. If we are to fulfil the goal to leave no one behind, we need to work together,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana at the agreement signing.
“The Trust Fund has helped strengthen institutional capacity and enhanced understanding by tailoring products that fit regional, subregional and country contexts,” she added.
“Switzerland is keen to join partners and support ESCAP’s efforts in Disaster Risk Reduction by contributing to the Trust Fund towards strengthening people-centered early warning systems and disaster resilience in high-risk, low capacity countries,” said Ms Helene Budliger Artieda, Ambassador of Switzerland.
Budliger also highlighted the importance of tangible work, for instance to further enhance climate resilience in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa; and to develop standard operating procedures for multi-hazard early warning in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam, as continuation of the Trust Fund work, according to a media release.
She added, “Our vision is to expand the experiences of this pragmatic, result-oriented work to other beneficiary countries across the region.”
The Asia-Pacific region continues to be hit by a relentless sequence of disasters and these disasters strike without discrimination, but inflict the greatest damage in the poorest communities, including minority groups, people in remote areas and those on the margins of the region’s rapidly expanding cities.
Through regional coordination, the Trust Fund has reduced the total cost of establishing and maintaining early warning systems substantially compared to the sum of costs if each country had maintained its own system.
The Trust Fund continues to evolve and build on the opportunities offered by the new global and regional commitments to further scale up, share and replicate successful pilots in early warning systems through regional cooperation.
Investments in these systems have brought substantial benefits in terms of economies-of-scale. The Trust Fund has also proven to be an effective vehicle for countries to access and share data, tools and expertise to support disaster resilience in the region, the release added.
Since its inception in 2005, the ESCAP Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Tsunami, Disaster and Climate Preparedness has supported 29 projects with a budget of approximately $15.5 million and directly benefitted 19 countries.
At the regional level, it has provided sustained financial support for the establishment of key initiatives that deliver cost-effective warning products and services, particularly for tsunamis and extreme weather systems.