The Asia-Pacific region remains highly vulnerable to coastal hazards, such as tropical storms, storm surges, flooding and tsunamis.
In one of the most recent disasters, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines killed over 6,000 people and affected millions of others.
Early warning systems for natural disasters in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian countries were initiated in 2005 by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. This year, the trust fund won a 500,000 euro contribution from the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) through the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
The contribution by the German government will boost ESCAP’s efforts to strengthen early warning systems through regional collaboration and capacity building, so that vulnerable communities receive the information they need to save lives and livelihoods when disasters strike.
“The contribution from the German government will kick-start the next phase of the fund and this investment will enhance regional warning mechanisms, while building national early-warning systems for vulnerable countries,” said Shamshad Akhtar, UN under-secretary-general and ESCAP executive secretary.
The contribution is part of the newly launched Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM), of which ESCAP is a major partner. The initiative is coordinated by GIZ and brings together a range of stakeholders from Germany and the Asia-Pacific region, providing a forum for new ways of collaboration in disaster risk management.
Germany confirmed its status as one of ESCAP’s biggest donors in 2013.
“If we want to effectively and systematically reduce and manage disaster risks, we’ ll have to think more outside the box, bringing in new actors like the private sector, promoting knowledge-sharing and creating space for innovation across regions,” said Gisela Hammerschmidt, director for policy issues of bilateral development cooperation in the BMZ, and chairwoman of the advisory board of the GIDRM.
“There’s a lot to be learned from one another and we are most grateful for the possibility to work closely together with a strong partner like ESCAP,” she said.
Carmaker’s footballs kick-start life for young Thais
A group of Thai children, half of whom have no parental care, have kicked their way into a regional tournament, inspired by the “Power of Play” concept and Chevrolet’s donation of ‘indestructible’ footballs.
The SOS FC team of 18 boys (division under 12 years) from the SOS Children’s Village Nongkhai competed in the northeast regional football competition in Maha Sarakham province.
The team was formed in February 2013 after a visit from Chevrolet Thailand and the One World Futbol Project during a national caravan tour of disadvantaged communities across Thailand. Thanks in part to the distribution of 40 One World Futbols and training from local coaches, the SOS FC team soon started winning matches in local tournaments on its way to regional competition.
“Our team wouldn’t be playing if it hadn’t been for the encouragement and generous donation of practice balls from Chevrolet Thailand,” said Wichan Kampinit, the village director. “The power of play has really motivated our kids to excel.”
Located near the Laos border and just a few hundred metres up the road from the local Chevrolet dealership, SOS Children’s Village Nongkhai is home to more than 100 children who have lost their parental care. The village helps children to grow up in the most natural way and to develop their individual skills, interests and talents, guiding them from childhood to adulthood. The Nongkhai village has 11 SOS family houses and includes a kindergarten, classrooms and a small football pitch.
Chevrolet and One World Futbol Project partnered in May 2012 to bring football to youths around the world. As the founding sponsor of One World Futbol Project, Chevrolet made a three-year commitment to support the donation and distribution of 1.5 million One World Futbols to children and youth around the world. The specially engineered football never goes flat, never needs a pump, and can last even in rugged conditions.
“Play transforms lives, helping children overcome difficult situations, instills a can-do spirit and, perhaps most importantly, drives a sense of what is possible,” said Laurent Berthet, director of communications for GM Thailand / Southeast Asia and Chevrolet Sales Thailand. “It is truly inspiring to see young kids turn their love of football into successful teamwork.”
More about the Nong Khai ball donation can be seen on the Chevrolet FC YouTube page.
Major firms link up for better business sustainability
Sustainability is the key to successful business, an ideal recognised by the 31 Thai companies which recently joined a training programme initiated by the Stock Exchange of Thailand.
The Swiss-based RobecoSAM, an internationally-known sustainability investment specialist, assisted in setting up the training programme, ‘DJSI exclusive training’. It coached 31 Thai companies to participate in the sustainability assessment of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), the globally-recognised sustainability benchmarks, as a part of SET's long-term capital market development to support listed companies' sustainable growth.
The 30 listed companies and one non-listed company selected for the DJSI training, were: ADVANC, AOT, BANPU, BAY, BBL, BEC, BGH, BH, BIGC, BTS, CPALL, CPF, CPN, DTAC, GLOW, INTUCH, IRPC, IVL, KBANK, KTB, MINT, PTT, PTTEP, PTTGC, SCB, SCC, TOP, TMB, TRUE, TUF and Thai Beverage, a non-Thai listed company.
“Selection for DJSI…. will boost both domestic and foreign investors and enhance trust in business operations with a high commitment to social responsibility, together with good performances, resulting in sustainable growth”, said SET executive vice president Bordin Unakul.
“SET has held activities such as CEO forums and coaching workshops, to enhance expertise and potential,” said Bordin. These companies have been invited to join in the corporate sustainability assessment this month. The finalists to be constituents of DJSI will be announced in September 2014.
Three Thai listed companies were selected into DJSI World in 2013 – PTT (PTT), PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) and Siam Cement (SCC). These three companies, as well as Thai Oil (TOP) were also added into the DJSI Emerging Markets.