JAKARTA, 19 October 2020 – Representatives from ASEAN sectoral bodies on disaster management, health and social welfare development convened in a high-level roundtable on 14 October to discuss accelerated actions in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The roundtable took place during the official launch of the ASEAN Guidelines on Disaster Responsive Social Protection to Increase Resilience, a collaborative effort among the three sectors with support from the United Nations, the European Union, the Asian Development Bank and the Canadian government.

Over 200 participants from ASEAN Sectors, policy makers, CSOs, NGOs/INGOs, academies and think tanks, as well as national and international partners/organisations attended the roundtable.

Developed in 2017-2019, the Guidelines aims to provide a framework, guiding principles and key considerations that are critical for social protection programmes to deliver on resilience outcomes.

It also identifies practical steps for policy makers and practitioners in the concerned sectors to work together in building the necessary blocks for leveraging adaptive social protection systems based on ASEAN Member States’ case studies.

Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Kung Phoak officiated the launching ceremony. In his opening speech, he noted that, “the development and implementation of the Guidelines will accelerate coherent actions across sectors, including the implementation of the AADMER Work Programme, the ASEAN Declaration and Regional Implementation Framework on Social Protection, as well as the ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda and other regional frameworks”.

At the roundtable, Assistant Secretary Hernando Caraig of the Philippines’ Civil Defense Office represented the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management Chair. In his remarks, he highlighted that the Guidelines will allow for more adaptive and inclusive social protection systems to anticipate and meet the needs of vulnerable groups, and mitigate the impact of potential crises. It also provides practical designs and will be implemented with flexibility,.

Deputy Head the European Union Mission to ASEAN Lukas Gajdo commended ASEAN Member States for their significant progress in introducing crucial social protection mechanisms as part of their COVID-19 response. He stated that the Guidelines is a vivid example of how ASEAN sectors have been coordinating effectively and efficiently to reinforce each other’s comparative advantage to reach those who are most vulnerable.

COVID-19 has created a devastating blow to ASEAN and the world economy, It threatens food security, livelihoods and disproportionately impact the vulnerable groups such as children, older persons, people with disabilities, women and youth.

Protecting these most vulnerable individuals require for social protection to go beyond poverty reduction objectives, and the Guidelines will help reach this goal. It also calls for an urgent action for shock-responsive social protection systems and a multi-sectoral approach.