The disaster riskscape across Asia-Pacific

Source: UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
Country: Indonesia, Japan, Marshall Islands, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Tonga, World

The region faces a daunting spectrum of natural hazards. ESCAP reports that these are closely linked to inequality and poverty, leading to a vicious downward cycle.
The Asia-Pacific region faces a daunting spectrum of natural hazards. Indeed, many countries could be reaching a tipping point beyond which disaster risk, fuelled by climate change, exceeds their capacity to respond.

This Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2019 shows how these disasters are closely linked to inequality and poverty, each feeding on the other and leading to a vicious downward cycle. It assesses the scale of losses across the disaster ‘riskscape’ and estimates the amounts that countries would need to invest to outpace the growth of disaster risk. It shows the negative effects of disasters on economies in the region and where investments are more likely to make the biggest difference.

While this will require significant additional finance, the report shows the amounts are small compared to the amounts that countries in the region are currently losing due to disasters. The report demonstrates how countries can maximize the impacts of their investments by implementing a comprehensive portfolio of sectoral investments and policies that jointly address poverty, inequality and disaster risk. It showcases examples from the region of innovative pro‑poor disaster risk reduction measures and risk-informed social policies that are breaking the links between poverty, inequality and disasters. Similarly, it explores how emerging technologies such as big data and digital identities can be used to ensure the poorest and most vulnerable groups are included in these policy interventions.

Ultimately, the report argues that countries will have to invest more in the measures appropriate to their own circumstances, but that they should also work more closely together to unlock the potential of regional cooperation.

IMO changes limits on sulphur in shipping freight

GEODIS (who gave a webinar on carbon emissions to HLA members recently) have alerted us to legal changes affecting shipping freight.

The IMO (International Marine Organization) has set a limit for Sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships of 0.50% from January 2020. This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxide emanating from ships and would have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts. IMO2020 is the first in a series of steps by the IMO to reduce emissions in response to climate change (source: IMO). All ships will be required to comply on all of the world's oceans. Stricter 0.1% Sulphur will remain in the emission control areas in Europe and North America.

To read more about the implications, please click the link for a PDF article: IMO 2020

Webinar on reducing carbon emissions successful

On 27 March 2019, logistics provider GEODIS provided a free 40 minute webinar for HLA on the subject of reducing carbon emissions in humanitarian logistics. The webinar included three speakers, and a presentation of the EcoTransit measuring tool. A full video of the webinar is available at:

The speakers were:

Edith Mazoyer, GEODIS:

Cecile Bray, GEODIS

Ralph Anthes, EcoTransit:

During the webinar, the speakers covered the following:

  • General WW transport context (increase of flows)
  • Environmental impact of each type of transport (rail, road, sea and air)
  • Focus on the energy mix (how is the energy produced and the impact. For instance, electricity does not have the same impact if produced by coal as by sun or wind)
  • Energy innovations for transport
  • A case study: transport from Europe to Middle East by air & sea, or by air or by road
  • A live demo of the EcoTransitmeasuring tool:


This slide summarises the presentation.

Questions and observations

The speakers answered a range of questions, including:

Q: Will EcoTransit be available soon to NGOs?

A: This is being discussed soon by EcoTransit and Ralph Anthes hopes that NGO’s will be able to use the full system for a reduced fee.

Q: It is surely better to buy supplies locally than have to use long distance freight?

A: George Fenton said that buying locally was always a better option and he was aware that much effort had been made in recent years to support local production, especially of pharmaceuticals. He cautioned that steps would need to be taken that the supplies were quality assured and stressed the importance of planning and preparedness, for example, to assess and quality review local suppliers before an emergency situation arises.

Q: Surely off-setting carbon can lead to increased transport costs?

A: Yes, in some cases it can and the answer is to preposition stocks where possible, plus collaborate ahead of time and at the time of a disaster with logistics service providers to obtain a balance.

Q: In disaster situations, surely airfreight is the only answer?

A: Yes, often it is but preparedness can help reduce the need. NGOs should work with air carriers and collaborate better with other NGOs and agencies, to optimize loading and avoid empty space. They should also try to use freight rather than passenger aviation and direct flights.

Nikola Usenovic, Head of Global Procurementat International Medical Corps commented:

''We will be using this learning to pass on to our colleagues and, hopefully, to include in future policies, projects and procurements. We are considering mandating our major suppliers under BPA/LTA, where we move large quantities of goods, to provide the Co2 report using the EcoTransit or similar tools. We will also consider using this to measure and then reduce the carbon footprint of our supply chain by using sea/truck vs air when feasible. We will also be incorporating consideration of carbon footprint impact when developing sourcing strategies.

For example, last year we switched transport mode to trucks to a Middle East program location, and by sea to a North African program location vs air. Increased donor advocacy and support on this issue will be very useful to speed up implementation of such ecological best practices in the humanitarian sector."