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Major AIIA-Japan Foundation Project on Disaster Resilience Wraps Up Its 2023/24 Activities

Published 20 Mar 2024

The Indo-Pacific Cooperation Network, a program centred on a group of 15 experts on disaster resilience selected from Indo-Pacific countries, wrapped up its 2023/24 program last week.

The program, organised by the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) and the Japan Foundation, consisted of three main components: a study tour and research sessions in Japan in September 2023, participation in masterclasses and the Australian Institute of International Affairs National Conference in Canberra in November 2023, and a study tour to Fiji and Tonga in March 2024. Study tours focused on each nation’s disaster resilience measures, with visits to sites affected by disasters and meetings with key figures in government, academia, media and civil society focused on disaster mitigation and response.

The purpose of these activities is to forge an interdisciplinary network of emerging experts that can focus their attention on devising transnational solutions to pressing problems in the region. AIIA National Executive Director Dr Bryce Wakefield believes the group has real momentum. He says: “Over these last six months, network members have shown that they have created bonds of friendship and professionalism that will last a lifetime. Members of the network, who did not know each other before, are already collaborating on projects that are outside of the bounds of the original project.” He thinks the network has real “staying power” and is looking forward to bringing future cohorts into contact with the 2023/24 cohort.

The activities of the network were covered in Japanese and Australian newspapers, and on Fiji’s major television news program. The members of the network gave final research presentations in Nadi, Fiji, last week and are aiming to publish their work on disaster resilience soon.

Wakefield believes there is ample scope to continue this program, focusing on a different aspect of resilience each year. “There are certainly possibilities around issues such as food security or resilience of justice systems, for example, that could be a focus of cohorts of the network.” He advises potential applicants for future rounds of the program to keep an eye on the AIIA website in coming weeks.