The ‘Unlocking the Future: Novels Approaches to DRM for a Safer Asia’ webinar took place on 5 May 2021. The webinar focused on how innovation is emerging as a key theme in disaster risk management (DRM) and wider development fields to address complex challenges and formulate more efficient and cost-effective modes of working. 

The webinar brought together panelists that included development partners, innovation experts, and DRM actors to share their perspectives on the relevance of innovation in DRM and localization. The webinar was moderated by Dr. Valerie Bemo (Deputy Director, Emergency Response, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation). She introduced the session by reflecting on how the COVID-19 pandemic has further driven the need for innovation in addressing complex challenges with cost-effective solutions. 

The first panelist, Mr. Muhammad Idrees Mahsud (Member – National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Pakistan), provided a government and policy perspective. He cited that innovation is driven by the public sector and drew upon how it has been prioritized by the government since the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. He was followed by Mr. Abdulla Khoory (Grant Manager, Expo 2020 Dubai Representative) who provided details about Expo 2020 Dubai and how the event brings unique opportunities to address global challenges of opportunity, mobility, and sustainability. 

The third panelist, Mr. Rubaab Sood, (Head, Disaster Risk Management & Social Entrepreneurship, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), India) provided the private sector perspectives. He highlighted FICCI’s role in bringing forth technological innovations derived in India to global markets and imparting training on commercialization amongst innovators in the country. 

The final panelist was Mr. Sisira Madurapperuma (Director, Preparedness for Response and Recovery (PRR), Asian Disaster Preparedness Center ADPC). Mr. Madurapperuma drew upon the insights shared by the other panelists to emphasize the potential to foster innovations from the grassroots level. He connected the power of regional organizations to support innovation by enabling partnerships, supporting champions, policy guidance, technical support, and access to funding.

The webinar also provided an opportunity to launch the ‘Landscape Analysis Report on Innovation for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in Asia developed under APP’. The report analyzes the role of innovation in DRM. It details the challenges and enablers in the context of the Asian Region as well as providing examples of innovative organizations and practices from selected countries. The study concludes with recommendations to foster innovation in the field leveraging the Asian Preparedness Partnership (APP) platform. The report can be downloaded via the following link: Landscape Analysis Report on Innovation for Disaster Risk Management in Asia.

One of the specific recommendations arising from the report was the need for mechanisms to support local actors to identify, nurture and further develop innovative solutions. In this context, the APP ‘Social Innovation Grand Challenge’ was launched during the webinar. The challenge seeks to support selected innovators and nurture innovative ideas for dissemination and utilization in their own countries and potential replication across the region and beyond. 

Applications for Expression of Interest (EOI) for the ‘Social Innovation Grand Challenge’ can be submitted until 4 June 2021. More information including the application form can be accessed via the following link: Expression of Interest for Social Innovation Grand Challenge.

The webinar concluded with a questions and answers (Q&A) session. The session allowed for the scope to draw further insights on the role of innovation in DRM, the approaches and mechanism to uptake and utilize innovation, and how each of the panelists believes that innovation can be accelerated and integrated into DRM. 

Watch the full webinar on our Youtube Channel:Video.   

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