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Leaders sign pact to help lessen risks from disasters

By Dave Segal

LAST UPDATED: 01:36 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2011

With last March's Tokyo disaster still fresh in their minds, leaders from the public and private sectors signed a joint "statement of intent" Friday to work together in reducing risk from potential disasters and improving recovery efforts across the Asia-Pacific region.

"Disasters are not going away, but the reality how to deal with them has to be upgraded," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue.

Alfonso Martinez-Fonts Jr., executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the disaster in Japan expedited the signing of the joint agreement at the APEC CEO Summit in Waikiki.

"Even though this work has been going on for a long time, when that happened I think the thing really got elevated," said Martinez-Fonts. "Of course, we had just had the New Zealand Christchurch earthquake. The Australian floods came right after that. A year ago we had the Chilean mines. So the whole Asia-Pacific region has really taken a beating over the last few years."

Martinez-Fonts said a lot of people are doing the right things, "but when you can coordinate, you can get it done so much better, so much faster. That's where the benefit is to this whole thing."

Organizations and their representatives who signed the "statement of intent" were Donohue; Chief of Staff Rear Adm. Robin Watters of the U.S. Pacific Command; M.R.C. Greenwood, president of the University of Hawaii; Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Andy Winer, director of external affairs for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Signing the agreement in advance were Ford Foundation President Luis Ubinas, Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, U.S.-Japan Council President Irene Hirano and Timothy Manning, Federal Emergency Management Agency deputy administrator for protection and national preparedness.

Greenwood said UH has offered to accommodate the initiative and said the university's strong international connections throughout the region will make the university an ideal home.

The Asia-Pacific region comprises 52 percent of Earth's surface area yet experiences more than 70 percent of the world's natural disasters, according to the Meridian Institute, which coordinated the joint signing.

"Countries and communities can't do it alone," said Michael Lesnick, a senior partner with the Meridian Institute. "This is about how the public and private sectors and nongovernment groups can collaborate to better prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters."

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HonoluluHawaii wrote:
"With last March's Tokyo disaster still fresh in their minds, leaders from the public and private sectors signed a joint "statement of intent" Friday to work together in reducing risk from potential disasters and improving recovery efforts across the Asia-Pacific region." In other words, The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is finally getting its due. Hey . . . we are now relevant in this world . . . we were merely the islands with Colt Brennan who almost reached the tip of Mount Everest, with his Darth Vader slinging days as the Quarterback of The University of Hawaii at Moana Warriors. Crazy, I rather have Let's Go 'Bows, Let's Go 'Bows, Let's Go 'Bows, speaking of which . . . DAVE SHOJI, KANANI DANIELSON, JANE CROSON, BRITTANY HEWITT, EMILY HARTONG, CHANTAEL SATELE, MITA UIATO, EMILY MAEDA, ELIZABETH BLAKE, KRISTIANA TUANIGA, KRISTINA KAM, . . . we have a spot for you on the H-1 freeway for a parade through Downtown Honolulu, as you produce our Fifth NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship, this year, and THIS YEAR. YOU HEAR THAT ! ! ! THIS YEAR !!! THIS IS THE YEAR !!! OKAY ?? !!
on November 12,2011 | 02:52AM
bwaikiki wrote:
Does that mean these countries might help the flood victims of the Mississippi Valley and New England? They certainly have not received nearly the help our own government has extended to Haiti, Japan, China, and every other disaster in the world.
on November 12,2011 | 07:45AM
cojef wrote:
"Statement of Intent", just means exactly that. It is non-binding, and if you notice, the signatories are not even at tha ambassodorial levels, all non entities. A lot of "bruhaha" calling attention to natural distasters which we humans have no control over. Much "shibai" activities, typical of all APEC programs. These activities are reminders to diplomats on what is currently ailing in this world we live in.
on November 12,2011 | 08:25AM
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