2011 Oct 19
October 19, 2011

Asean early warning systems crucial

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THE implementation of an early warning systems to reduce risk of disasters within the Asean region is being emphasised as the most important agenda in the 33rd meeting of Asean Sub-Committee on Meteorology and Geophysics (SCMG) being held here.

Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communications, Abdul Mutalib POKSSDP Hj Mohd Yusof in raising the issue yesterday said that several nations in the region had been ravaged by natural disasters such as tsunamis, typhoons and earthquakes.

“The extreme nature, frequency and intensity of these incidents are quite alarming,” he said adding that the impact was substantial as lives were lost, infrastructure and properties were damaged.

“And in some extreme cases, settlement areas and communities are wiped out. With natural disasters happening around the region, climate change has also become an imminent regional concern,” he said in a speech shortly before launching the meeting.

“Consequences of climate change are becoming more apparent now. Rising sea levels has increased the risk of disastrous floods. Shifting weather patterns are now affecting food productions in some parts of the world.”

The acting permanent secretary said that the importance of early warning systems “could not be more defined”.

He noted accurate and early warning of disaster was crucial. “It can enable early mobilisation of emergency response teams. It gives time for the general public to take critical action within the limited timeframe that they may have. This is critical in saving lives and properties,” Abdul Mutalib said.

“I understand that the Asean SCMG has been actively involved in the Asean Committee in Science and Technology (Asean COST) Flagship Programmes, with particular focus on Early Warning Systems (EWS) for Disaster Risk Reduction. The role and contribution of Asean SCMG is pivotal here,” he added.

He shared that Brunei was no exception to the case as the government has out in place policies and strategic approaches to adequately address natural disasters through effective early warning systems.

The senior government officer also offered several probable actions for the Asean SCMG to consider in the meeting.

He expressed his hope of seeing the Asean SCMG fully utilising the Global Framework of Climate Change in introducing new policies and strategies as the framework offers valuable strategic prospects in climate observation system, research and information management system.

Abdul Mutalib also suggested that the Asean SCMG looked into raising public awareness and mitigation on climate to the Asean community.

“Such exercise may include sharing of findings and studies that can be translated into doable measures to be undertaken not just by government and the private sector, but equally important, by just anyone.”

The acting permanent secretary also encouraged the sub-committee to continue and strengthen their cooperation with their partners such as Japan Meteorological Agency and Korea Meteorological Administration and leverage on their expertise as well as knowledge for mutual benefits. “Lastly, the Asean SCMG serves as a platform for information exchange. The meeting may want to share and explore best practices not only in operational and technical aspects, but also the institutional and policy frameworks in setting up a more effective meteorological administration,” he said.

The three-day meeting, which will conclude tomorrow, gathered delegates from the meteorological, hydrological and geophysical services from the respective Asean member countries and representatives from the Asean secretariat as well as guests from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) and Korea Meteorological Agency. –Fitri Shahminan