SCO Heads Meeting on Prevention of Emergency

9th Meeting of Heads of Governments of SCO dealing with the prevention and elimination of emergency situation was held recently in Cholpon- Ata in Kyrgyz Republic.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh attended the meet from Indian side.

Over the period 1996 to 2015, the SCO countries have lost 300,000 lives to natural disasters. The economic losses from disasters are also extremely high and cascading.

Natural events like earthquakes, floods, storms, landslides, epidemics etc are the major killers. The frequency and intensity of hydro-meteorological hazards is likely to rise in view of the climate change.

Highlights of Indian Minister’s Speech at Meeting:

India believes in cooperation on prevention of disasters and emergencies within the SCO framework will give added impetus to our domestic efforts.

First in the list is cooperation on reducing earthquake-related losses. Over the last twenty years, earthquakes have taken lives of more than 200,000 people, which accounts for two-thirds of disaster related mortality in SCO countries. We must develop concrete cooperation activities to reduce the losses in future.

In this regard, a joint Urban Earthquake Search and Rescue exercise will be very useful in improving our collective preparedness. When the Search and Rescue teams engage in a joint exercise, they not only build a common understanding of internationally recognised procedures to coordinate in emergencies, they also build personal acquaintances and friendships that come in handy when they have to respond together. India offers to host a joint exercise on Urban Earthquake Search and Rescue in 2019.

In addition, a meeting of technical experts can be organised to facilitate exchange of knowledge and experiences on earthquake-resistant building construction, model building codes and standard processes for ensuring compliance. This can help address the medium and long term issues for reducing earthquake losses.

Secondly, we can work on regional cooperation for making our infrastructure disaster-resilient. Over the coming decades, investment in infrastructure in the SCO countries will be the driver of sustainable development. It is important to ensure that this infrastructure is resilient to the impact of disasters. Within the SCO framework we should exchange knowledge, experience and expertise on making infrastructure resilient through better understanding of risks, standards of design, and stronger technical capacities.

Finally, we need cooperation in the area of early warning systems for extreme weather events. The SCO member states may have very different climate and weather systems but the underlying processes for forecasting adverse weather events, anticipating their impacts and issuing early warnings remain the same.

A technical meeting of representatives of our meteorological services will be a very beneficial first step to foster collaboration in this area. The meeting can be structured around specific components of a comprehensive end-to-end severe weather early warning system. In this regard, India offers to host a meeting of the meteorological services of SCO countries in early 2019.