11th Asia Pacific Regional Conference, Viet Nam, 21-23 November 2023

Organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC)

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest disaster in living memory, on almost any measure. Over 6.5 million people are confirmed to have died in less than 3 years, and the pandemic’s indirect impacts have touched the lives of virtually every community on the planet.

The pandemic is taking place against a background of other hazards, many of which have also caused disasters. IFRC has analyzed comprehensive disaster data for 2020–2021. During this period, there were 710 disasters triggered by natural hazards. These killed close to 30,000 people and affected over 220 million. In 2021 alone there were 378 disasters triggered by natural hazards. The majority of these were climate- and weather-related disasters.

According to the World Disasters Report, of the five regions of the world recognized by IFRC, Asia Pacific has been the worst affected by disasters in 2020–2021. This is true across three different measures: Asia Pacific has seen the largest number of disasters, the largest number of deaths and the largest number of people affected. Among the ten countries with the most people affected by disasters, a majority were in the Asia Pacific and MENA region: China, India, Philippines, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Iraq. More than 100 million people were affected in these countries. Of the countries with the highest rate of affected population per capita, the most affected were small island states, in particular those in the Pacific.

More recently, we have seen many new and devastating disasters, such as the Pakistan flooding in 2022 and earthquake in Türkiye and Syria in 2023, killing and disrupting lives of millions of people. The good news is that the total number of global deaths from disasters has actually declined since the 1960’s. Disaster risk management and preparedness, effective response and building back better can limit the loss of life and property and the disruption of community life in both rural and urban areas. While the etymological meaning of ‘disaster’ may be a calamity due to the unfavorable position of the stars, we now know a lot about the causes of disasters, we know to expect sudden-onset events and study and mitigate the evolution of those with a slow onset.

The bad news is that since 1970 there has been an increase in the average annual number of disasters triggered by natural hazards. With its effects on humans and their habitat, the climate crisis will contribute to more frequent small and large disasters in the years and decades to come. And due to the increasing frequencies of disease outbreaks too, countries are more often experiencing two or more disasters simultaneously. When disasters overlap or occur in rapid succession, they may exacerbate each other’s impacts.

The sobering conclusion is that we now live in a multi-hazard world, which poses a considerable preparedness challenge.

The 2018 Manila Call for Action was foresightful. It called for the IFRC network to prepare and respond to pandemics at a local level.

We need to be equally realistic and visionary. What will it take – knowledge, tools, legal frameworks and governance, capacity building, resources, partnerships – for the National Societies of Asia Pacific to be disaster ready in 2023 and beyond?

The 11th Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Viet Nam in 2023, built on the achievements of Manila Call for Action, and was designed to help National Societies to be ready for the crises on the horizon.

This was achieved through a series of engaging sessions under two main headings:

– Understanding the crises ahead of us

– Being disaster ready as National Societies and as a Movement


  • National Societies leaders shared understanding of risk and preparedness strategies to support disaster management in an era of climate and other hazards.
  • A focused Hanoi Plan of Action identified a small number of key actions that we will commit together to strengthen our individual and collective preparedness for crisis response over the next 4 years.

Greening our Conference

To fulfil the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s devoted to greening these conferences to as part of their commitment to protecting the environment and addressing the climate crises; IFRC aimed to make the Conference carbon-neutral. This included a paperless conference, and minimize the number of participants from each national Society. Any additions to the three delegates, an additional participation fee was paid that went to directly to tree planting in Viet Nam. #END

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