The first phase of Towards a Safer World yielded a series of lessons from whole-of-society pandemic preparedness which were collated in ‘Beyond Pandemics: A Whole of Society approach to Disaster Preparedness’ and disseminated at a conference in Rome on September 15-16 2011. The conference concluded that lessons from TASW are relevant both for continued pandemic preparedness and for other crises that are unpredictable, global and able to cause widespread disruption, suffering and death.
By the end of the conference it was evident that practitioners from a variety of sectors, organizations and countries wanted to remain involved in whole-of-society preparedness for pandemics and related threats. They agreed to work as a network committed to maintaining and refining the body of practice, communicating it widely, mainstreaming it within institutions that otherwise would fail to sustain it, reaching out and engaging others who might benefit from it, and continuing to learn from each other. The Towards a Safer World Network is one strand of efforts to strengthen National Disaster Management and Emergency Preparedness capabilities.
The Network strengthens the capabilities of up to 400 committed individuals to implement best whole-of-society preparedness practices that have been developed and tested in relation to pandemics: individuals do this within their own spheres of responsibility as well as within their institutions and organizations.
The Network convenes a broad range of stakeholders including non-traditional partners from the private sector and the military: they do not normally get the opportunity to interact with each other. TASW is a network of individuals rather than organizations. This facilitates candid, informal and innovative interactions.
The network hub operates from within the UN System Influenza Coordination office (UNSIC) in close collaboration with the Health Security and Environment Department of WHO, with UNISDR and with WFP’s Emergency Preparedness and Response branch.
The hub provides secretariat support for the network, develops and implements work plans, manages web-based information platforms, organizes productive events, maintains a strong narrative for the network and measures progress to ensure accountability. Satellite hubs at regional or national levels are being encouraged.
Disaster Reduction Goal
The Towards a Safer World Network contributes to increased societal resilience (including continuity of governance, economic systems, critical services and resilient livelihoods) in the face of disease pandemics and other comparable threats to health.
Preparedness for effective response (HFA 5)
Prospective TASW activities, subject to funding, include:
(1) Establishing and managing a network of professionals whose work involves whole of society preparedness for pandemics and comparable risks
(2) Strengthening network members’ capacity to respond to emergencies by:
a. Developing and refining best practices, including practical case studies, examples of local-level good practice, checklists, guidance and tools, based on network members’ experience, enriched continually with new ideas from the field, and drawing on risk management and private sector expertise
b. Enhancing knowledge-building through a web-based platform to facilitate exchange of experiences of whole-of-society preparedness and convey knowledge covering a wide range of disciplines and sectors
c. Supporting learning from research and studies by strong links with academic and research institutions and the One Health movement.
d. Developing and maintaining a roster of experts in various disciplines with the capacity to deliver support to network members on demand.
(3) Fostering collaboration at country, regional and global levels by:
a. Establishing close links with existing groups and platforms (including ISDR global and regional platforms and other regional political and economic fora) to advocate for new ways of working to foster resilience.
b. Strengthening links with private sector actors (including through mapping what roles business can play), the military and civil defense and links between health and other sectors involved in preparedness.
c. Organizing inputs to regional meetings and workshops, when appropriate.
d. Organizing a special session at the 2013 ISDR Global Platform meeting on the work of TASW.
e. Focusing on a sub-set of regions and countries, so as to be able to measure results at country level in terms of strengthened capacity to respond to pandemic and related threats.
(4) Contributing to wider strategies to strengthen National Disaster Management Organizations (NDMOs) by:
a. Bringing into the TASW network key individuals from NDMOs.
b. Engaging NDMOs in TASW workshops and events, when appropriate.
Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point(s)
Chadia Wannous, Senior Policy Advisor and TASW Network Coordinator
Tel: +41 22 917 1150