By: Annrou R. Ramos
NAMRIA Deputy Administrator Efren P. Carandang joined the official Philippine Delegation to the first ever World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul, Turkey on 23-24 May 2016. Along with Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon ‘Dinky’ Soliman as the Head of the Philippine Delegation, DA Carandang was joined by senior officials from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Finance (DOF) and the Philippine Embassy in Turkey.
The Philippine Delegation at the 2016 WHS
The Summit served as a global call for action by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to implement the UN Agenda for Humanity and its five core responsibilities. The event convened 9000 participants from 173 Member States, including 55 Heads of State and Government, as well as hundreds of businesses, aid organizations, civil society, affected communities and youth – all driven by a common goal of addressing major humanitarian challenges, including people’s safety, dignity and the right to thrive.
Specific humanitarian issues were discussed through the organized High-Level Leaders’ Roundtables, Special Sessions, Side Events, Exhibition Fairs and Innovation Marketplaces. Results from these platforms were encapsulated in the Summit Plenary, where commitments by global leaders to the Agenda for Humanity were explicitly announced. The Philippine Delegation delivered the following core commitments: “(1) to sustain political engagement to address the root causes of conflict by investing in inclusive and peaceful societies; (2) to uphold international laws and norms on human rights, armed conflicts and refugees; (3) to work for the passage of the Internally Displaced Persons Bill; (4) to accelerate the reduction of disaster and climate-related risks through (a) open sharing of risk information and common and fundamental operational data sets among DRRM actors across the whole emergency cycle, (b) capacitating local actors, governments and CSOs and harnessing in-country resources, (c) prioritizing disaster-resilient and community-driven infrastructure and (d) continuing to engage the private sector in DRR initiatives; and, (5) to enhance financing and social support to vulnerable communities, implement disaster risk financing and insurance strategies, increase investment for risk resilience and mobilize climate financing.” (WHS Philippine Statement, May 2016)
According to DA Carandang, NAMRIA - as the central mapping agency of the Philippine Government, centered its commitment on the reduction of disaster risks and impacts through open sharing of risk information and fundamental operational datasets. He presented these action points in the Summit’s Special Session for Risk and Vulnerability Analysis as one of the VIP Speakers. This commitment entails crucial steps in making quality geospatial information and services available and accessible to ensure a common operational picture across all phases of the emergency cycle. With this, NAMRIA reaffirms the country’s commitments under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
While these are monumental tasks, NAMRIA has already implemented various initiatives in integrating geospatial datasets in the Philippine DRRM System. These include the formulation of the Strategic Framework on Geospatial Information and Services for Disasters, where the Philippines, through NAMRIA is a Co-chair for the Working Group on Disasters of the UN Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), along with Jamaica. The framework will serve as UN-GGIM’s guiding policy document to support the Member States’ decision making and operations through quality geospatial information and services.
In the local level, DA Carandang said that NAMRIA is steadfast in the implementation of RA 10121 (Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010), particularly in information sharing and capacity building initiatives. It has also been actively participating in the Information Management – Technical Working Group (IM-TWG) of the NDRRMC. IM-TWG has been established “to serve as a venue for NDRRMC Member Agencies and key partners involved in DRRM to address disaster-related data and information availability, quality and accessibility, as well as system interoperability issues across the emergency cycle and provide the guidelines in establishing, managing and sharing Common and Fundamental Operational Datasets”. (IM-TWG website, 2016)
These accomplishments, along with the key learnings from the Summit, will better prepare NAMRIA in responding to and reducing the impacts of disasters and humanitarian crises. DA Carandang said that the greater challenge for the Philippines now is to sustain these best practices. For NAMRIA, he emphasized that the agency shall continue to provide geospatial information and services to the general public to reduce disaster risks. It is with importance that these data holdings be provided openly, freely, readily and with quality and accuracy to all DRRM actors. Achieving such will vastly contribute to the country’s overarching goal of achieving disaster resiliency, particularly at the community-level.
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