E-Resilience in Asia and the Pacific
Information and communications technology (ICT) has been widely recognised as an indispensable development enabler that contributes to and accelerates achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, SDG9 that encompasses building resilient infrastructure is highly relevant in the context of ICT for sustainable development. Resilience is defined as the ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions through risk management. Considering the significant progress in the field of ICT and its heightened potential to strengthen the adaptive capacity of critical infrastructure and systems, e-resilience has gained traction in Asia and the Pacific.
E-Resilience is defined as the ability of ICT systems to withstand, recover from and change in the face of an external disturbance such as a natural disaster. In addition, e-resilience is concerned with utilizing ICT for societal resilience. The surge in interest in e-resilience is closely linked with the fact that the Asia-Pacific region is the most disaster-prone region in the world. Over the period of 2005-2014, disasters have affected 1.4 billion people in the region with US$ 523 billion caused in economic damages, according to ESCAP research. Moreover, the Global Risks Report 2017 notes how technology is reshaping physical infrastructure and concludes that a greater interdependence among ICT infrastructure networks is increasing the scope for disasters to cascade across networks and affect society in unanticipated ways. While natural disasters may not be avoided completely, countries can reduce the risks posed by disasters on the lives and livelihoods of people in the region. To this regard, ICT is attributed a critical role in all phases of disaster risk management (DRM) and has applications in risk prevention, risk reduction, preparedness and response, and recovery.
By means of an extensive analysis, in the E-Resilience Toolkit a spectrum of available ICT tools are reviewed in the context of e-resilience, and concrete policy recommendations are offered that may benefit policymakers and DRM professionals in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. In recognition of the need for concerted regional efforts of utilizing ICT to minimize disaster risk, ESCAP has been at the forefront of promoting e-resilience through the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway (AP-IS), a regional broadband connectivity initiative mandated by ESCAP member States. Hence, the Toolkit aims to enhance the capacity of member States to capitalize on ICT developments, reduce disaster risk and contribute to the achievement of SDGs as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.