UNDRR, WINDRR, Australian Government, and SM honor women leaders in disaster resilience

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), with the support of Australian Government and SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI), recently presented the 2022 Women’s International Network for Disaster Risk Reduction (WIN DRR) Leadership Awards to Dr. Esline Garaebiti of Vanuatu and Dr. Homolata Borah of India.

Dr. Esline Garaebiti, the Director General of the Ministry of Climate Change Adaptation, Meteorology, Geo-Hazards, Environment, Energy and Disaster Management in Vanuatu was conferred the 2022 WIN-DRR Leadership Excellence Award.

Dr. Garaebiti was instrumental in the design and rollout of the Oceania Regional Seismic Network (ORSNET) across Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa.

With ORSNET, the region has improved tsunami detection system and, as such, reduced risks of tsunami in these countries. She is also the advocator for the Melanesia volcano network between PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to reduce risks of volcanic eruptions in Melanesia.

Dr. Homolata Borah, a researcher from India, was this year’s recipient of the WIN DRR Leadership Awards – Rising Star Award. Over the last six years, Dr. Borah has been working towards reducing disaster risk for some of the most vulnerable (and diverse) communities living in the world’s largest inhabited river island of Majuli in the state of Assam in India. The island has lost more than 30% of its landmass to river erosion over the last nine decades

The winners were selected from the 420 nominations that were received from 24 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. UNDRR, Australian Government and SM Prime, presented the awards on 21 September 2022 at the Plaza Gallery, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre during the Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR).

Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), said: “The WIN DRR Leadership Awards is a way to recognize the significant contributions being made by women to reduce disaster risk.”

“Dr Garaebiti’s work improving early warning systems across the Pacific means tsunami warnings are sent out faster, enabling those who may be in a tsunami’s path to get to higher ground,” Ms. Mizutori said.
Excellence award winner, Dr. Garaebiti, declared that “Involving women in disaster risk reduction in Vanuatu helps ensure that the needs of the most at-risk and marginalized people are considered in national, provincial and community disaster risk management planning, from prevention to the recovery.”

“When we look at the next generation of women leaders, Dr Homolata Borah is truly a Rising Star in disaster risk reduction,” said Ms. Mizutori. “By putting communities at the centre of her field research, she has engaged vulnerable communities in Majuli and helped identify practical solutions to the very specific problems of soil and river erosion that they face.”

Rising Star award winner Dr Homolata Borah emphasized that “We need to go beyond the rhetoric of women’s empowerment to more fundamental changes in the way resources are managed equally by women and men.”

SM Prime’s Ms. Jessica Sy also spoke during the event. She stated that SM Prime is “privileged to be a partner of UNDRR, WINDRR and the Australian Government in honoring women leaders who are in the forefront of DRR. It is heartwarming to be part of a body that recognizes how women across the Asia-Pacific Region are helping all of us to better understand and reduce the risk of disasters – when they happen.”

Ms. Sy called on women leaders from all levels of society including those in the government and private sectors to have active and meaningful participation and leadership in decision-making in DRR. She also encouraged other private corporations to support UNDRR and WIN DRR in their programs – particularly the Excellence Awards.

The WIN DRR Leadership Awards recognize women’s achievements in disaster risk reduction across the
Asia-Pacific region. The awards are part of UNDRR’s flagship women’s leadership initiative, the Women’s

International Network for Disaster Risk Reduction (WIN DRR), which is supported by Australian Aid.
There are two award categories – the Excellence Award, proudly sponsored by SM Prime Holdings, Inc., worth US$10,000 and the Rising Star Award worth US$7,500.