Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on May 30 delivered a speech to open the second Ministerial Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 2) on the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) in Hanoi.

The event, attended by ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh and ministers from the association’s ten member countries, aims to evaluate the results of the first phase of the AADMER and outline directions for its second phase (2013-2015).

PM Dung affirmed that at the regional level, disaster management has always been one of the prioritised issues of ASEAN and in the bloc’s cooperation with its partners.

AADMER has laid an important legal foundation to promote cooperation in preventing and dealing with disasters in the region, said the PM.

He expressed his delight that the association has recorded commendable progresses in implementing the first phase of the agreement in the 2010-2012 period.

Various important activities have been carried out in all four strategic components of Risk Assessment, Early Warning and Monitoring, Prevention and Mitigation, Preparedness and Response, and Recovery, he said.

PM Dung pointed out that disaster management cooperation between ASEAN and its partners has seen positive results, with many specific projects underway with the support of partners, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the US and the EU.

He suggested that the conference should focus on key issues, especially the enhancement of coordination between ASEAN’s disaster management agencies and other relevant channels such as the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), adding that resuming the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management is a practical step forward.

Recommending that the bloc should be more proactive in mobilising resources to effectively implement specific projects, the PM said it is crucial to concretise ASEAN’s agreements and commitments on cooperation in disaster management at a regional level into a national development plan for each member state, with priorities in the setting up of an early warning system and raising public awareness, the completion of legal documents and upgrading disaster prevention and relief efforts.

With the strong political commitments of the member countries and the joint efforts of the entire region, PM Dung said he believes ASEAN will reach its goal of building a Community with disaster-resilient nations and safer communities.

He noted that during the last ten years, the number of deaths and cases of missing people due to disasters in Vietnam has escalated to 300. Disasters have also cost Vietnam 1.5 percent of its GDP.

Vietnam has designed natural disaster prevention and relief national strategies for up to 2020, as well as steps against climate change, while promulgating many important legal documents in the field, such as the Laws on Water Resource and Natural Disaster Prevention and Fighting, the PM said.

Besides, Vietnam has also actively participated in regional and international forums on natural disaster management, while implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action on limiting risks caused by disasters.

At the conference, Vietnamese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat emphasised that due to the adverse effects of climate change, increasingly unpredictable natural disasters have impacted on the lives of people, especially those in rural areas, and the fulfillment of the United Nations’ millennium development goals.

This requires all ASEAN member countries to work closely together in responding to natural disasters, added Minister Phat.

In recent years, natural disasters have been more diverse, unpredictable and increasingly large, especially sea-level rises, salinisation, earthquakes and tsunamis. Many countries that seldom had natural disasters in the past now have to burden their devastating consequences.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises ten members, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA