Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor, and organised by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), the fifth edition of Crisis and Emergency Management Conference (CEMC) 2016 was launched today at St. Regis Resort Saadiyat Island - Abu Dhabi. The two-day conference titled ‘Innovative approaches towards a safe Nation’ witnessed the participation of a prominent group of local, regional and international experts, as well as specialists in the field of emergency crises and disaster management.

 

Present during the opening ceremony were His Excellency Dr. Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention of Society, H.E. Saif Sultan Al-Aryani, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for National Security in the UAE, H.E. Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, Commander in Chief of Abu Dhabi police, H.E. Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Health Authority, H.E. Lieutenant General Saif Abdullah Al Sha’far, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Interior, H.E Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Hosni, Director General of the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), H.E. Dr. Jamal Sanad Al-Suwaidi, Director General of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), H.E. Jassem Al Zaabi, Director General at the General Authority for the Security of Ports, Borders and Free Zones, members of the diplomatic community of the UAE, as well as other senior officials.

His Highness Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: “Nowadays, crisis and disaster management has become a matter of critical concern that haunts many countries. Sometimes this can be due to the lack of strategic planning and good management, and some other times this can be due to the lack of predicting and foreseeing them. Some believe that we are living in a period of multi-level, complex crises, whether it is a war or an internal unrest, terrorist attacks, or even devastating natural disasters. Consequently, these require examination, discussions and thinking in order to confront and address them and their consequences in a scientific manner, based on systematic and accurate researches.”

“It is not a coincidence nor it is surprising that the theme of this conference is "Innovative Approaches towards a Safe Nation", which embodies a significant strategy with a number of connotations to ensure security and power. This requires innovative approaches to deal with crises and disasters of all kinds, compelling us to unite our efforts; governments, societies, organisations, institutions, along with individuals in order to address and deal with them through science, innovation, knowledge and power.

“These days, the Arab world is facing serious challenges and risks and rapid developments with an impact on the national security. Whether it is a result of extremist terrorist groups targeting the relations between countries and people, dismantling its social fabric, and separating its citizens, or one of terrorist and sabotage acts targeting humans, environment, history and humanity, this requires a sound strategic planning, a strong and influential media discourse, and a mass perception and participation, so that we can confront, address, reduce and eliminate it completely. This way, our societies can live in safety and stability, and can regain their cultural, historical and humanitarian heritage.”

His Excellency Salem Obaid al-Hisan Shamsi, a member of the Federal National Council, addressed the audience on behalf of Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, Chairman of the Federal National Council, at the official opening. He said: “In order to face a crisis effectively, we must create opportunities for community participation, engaging all segments of society, including organisations, groups and individuals. Active participation of all members and entities of a community in the face of a crisis is an essential pillar of planned response, and is now being pursued by states and stakeholders facing such emergencies.”

He stressed that UAE’s wise leadership has been the driving force behind turning such visions into effective strategies, ambitious projects, as well as unique and innovative programs. A legislative environment that included clear and strict laws to protect individual and institutional rights while simultaneously respecting them has also been crucial, ultimately leading to their effective implementation.

His Excellency also pointed out that the Federal National Council works as a liaison between the leadership, the government and the community, and embodies the participation of citizens in the decision-making process. It considers crisis and disaster management as vital to achieving comprehensive security through applying legislative measures. Besides holding discussions on projects and issues directly related to national and individual security in a regional and global context, the council prioritises on the development of relevant laws and the improvisation of existing ones.

In conclusion, he said that the discussions shed light on the various vital aspects of emergency and crisis management, and that the participation of this elite group presents a golden opportunity to learn from the experiences of different countries, and exchange strategies to strengthen coordination and cooperation among concerned authorities.

His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al Owais said in his keynote address: “We now live in a complex world, characterised by accelerating changes, and people are exposed to a variety of risks and threats. Many disasters and crises ravage our world, and globalization at unprecedented levels has impacted our communities.”

"Health security is an integral part of the overall security system. Our wise leadership gave health sector great importance and established national health strategies capable to evaluate different health challenges in an accurate scientific manner to accommodate new technologies and knowledge. Among these strategies is the development of comprehensive national programs to combat infectious diseases, and eliminate them according to the World Health Organisation orientations.”

“Our wise leadership has envisioned to integrate the health sector within the national key sectors included in the national strategy of innovation, which is based on encouraging innovation in the areas of health and therapeutic services by using advanced technology, and to encourage the development of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Additionally, it fosters the work with strategic partners of the development of medical research sector for the treatment of prevalent diseases.

Hence, monitoring emerging diseases and its outbreaks and transmission between communities is a must to ensure security at the local and global levels. The health sector must be alert for confrontation through a national strategic system to which all the regional countries contribute.

“The UAE has permanently and distinctively pursued a collaborative approach with the international community and its health organisations. On the basis of this approach, the Ministry of Health has persevered to participate in all scientific meetings and health events. The country's qualification to announce its being free from iodine deficiency in 2013 reflects this constructive cooperation with the international community and its organizations, especially the World Health Organization, the UNICEF, the United Nations and the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD). Further to that, the country has developed a sophisticated strategy to confront non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases. Also, launched the program of Polio eradication, and was announced to be free from it and from malaria.”

In concluding his speech, H.E stressed that health is a basic human right; we look forward to the contribution of this conference to generate more support and cooperation between the relevant institutions of government, quasi-governmental health institutions and others. Cooperation between the countries is a necessity, especially since these kinds of infectious diseases cannot be controlled by individual countries. Since international health security has become one of the first political concerns, we must develop a system of international health standards aimed at protecting humanity and strengthening its capacity to ward off dangers, avoid possible diseases and reduce avoidable deaths. Hence, growing political will became a must.

"The issues addressed in this conference are critical, and of high relevance in these sensitive times. The seriousness of current situation and its impact on the global political situation have necessitated that we include these issues in our agenda, and we need to identify and analyse their causes, implications and solutions to these issues,” said H.E Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Hosni, in his opening speech.

NCEMA pursuit to organize this conference is a real translation of the directives of our wise leadership and its future insightful, led by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the State- may God protect him- His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai- may God protect him- the follow-up of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Chairman of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, and within the framework of directives , unlimited support, and continuous follow-up of H.H Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor."

H.E added, "The journey of Crisis and Emergency Conference started in 2008 with a confident and well-thought of step. The launch of the conference at that time was considered to be the first initiative of its kind in the region and the Middle East, and formed a lighthouse to illuminate the way towards the desired goals by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA). This was locally manifested by the increased pace of planning, preparedness, readiness, and awareness, and by improving performance and effectiveness of the efforts and capabilities of emergency response in the UAE and the region. It was also manifested, globally speaking, by the exchange of experiences related to emergencies and crises.”

He noted that the Authority seeks the contribution of Crisis and Emergency Management Conference in building bridges to facilitate the transfer and exchange of experiences, knowledge and ideas between decision-making institutions, especially those entrusted with the management of crises at the local, regional and global levels, as well as activating cooperation between all organizations and institutions to contribute to risk of disasters and crises reduction. There is no doubt that the challenges are great, so strengthening knowledge infrastructure of crisis management has become an urgent necessity that cannot deliberate or prudence response. In the light of the threats and risks we encounter, we have to ensure life, property and earnings preservations.

At the conclusion of his speech, H.E Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Hosni, Director General of the National Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA), thanked the Authority's partners for the organization of this very important conference. He also thanked all the sponsors for their remarkable support and the attendees for accepting the invitation to attend and participate in the conference. He wished everyone success at achieving their goals, in order to reach the important recommendations in accordance with ambitions and aspirations.

For his part, Campbell McCafferty, Director, Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the United Kingdom, said in his keynote speech that security is the key to prosperity, and that there should be a national security council for every country. It should be provided with all relevant information needed to face challenges threatening national security. Roles and responsibilities should be defined, and we should focus on complete preparedness to face crises and emergencies. In order to achieve that, constant monitoring and allocation of necessary financial resources are essential.

Préfet Henri Masse, Director of the Studies at the National Administration Academy and a Former General Commander of the French Civil Defense spoke on the topic ‘Crisis from a Security Perspective’. He pointed out that France has developed a strategy to enable them to identify the risks faced, and plan appropriate responses.

He added that the National Security Council in France is responsible for developing strategies as well as directing their implementation through various entities. Besides emphasizing on the importance of cooperation and exchange of experiences, he also spoke about the importance of integrated communication between all state ministries and local governmental bodies in responding to disasters and crises. When a civil Security Act was passed in 2004, the government had developed broad plans and allocated responsibilities at various levels, when faced with the risks. These plans include giving Governors of small towns the authority to act in the face of a crisis.

In order to ensure a quicker response to disasters and crises, France has established a direct channel of communication between the President and the Ministry of Interior. Cyclone Xynthia that affected France and flooded 72 cities forced the nation to restructure its security system to make it more effective. He concluded his speech by underlining the importance of a security system that is flexible and can be adapted to the situation.

The first session of the first day’s conference discussed an overview of security. The session was presided by Dr. Sultan Al Nuaimi, a researcher and an academic specialist. Préfet Henri MASSE, Director of the Studies at the National Administration Academy and a Former General Commander of the French Civil Defense talked about crises from a security perspective.

He highlighted that France has implemented a strategy allowing it to detect any crises the country maybe facing in addition to suitable response plans. Furthermore, the national security council is responsible for setting the strategies and directing the concerned government entities. Haas also emphasized on the importance of collaboration and exchange of knowhow amongst all ministries in order to ensure the right response methods are implemented in times of crises and emergencies.

Dr. Maksoud Kruse, CEO of Hedayah, The International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, talked about protecting communities from terrorist ideologies.

He gave a summary about the Hedayah Center, which came with the idea of establishing the first independent international organization that works in conjunction with Global Counterterrorism Forum, and with other partners at the international level to combat violent extremism. Then, he demonstrated the mechanism of understanding violent extremism, different types of ideologies- including religious ones- and individual and political problems. He also explained in detail the multiple dimensions of violent extremism phenomenon, which includes the ideological, political, communicative, economic, social, historical, ethnic, and psychological factors. In order to counter violent extremism, Dr Croz pointed out the importance of education, rejection of radicalism, involvement of local communities, and the development of national strategies. He also emphasized the role of communications and counter-speech, and the challenges of encountering the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters.

Dr. Abdulaziz O. Sager - Chairman of the Gulf Research Center, Saudi Arabia- spoke about Gulf integrated security. He said that the Arabian Peninsula, including the south of Iraq and south of Yemen form a unified geopolitical mass, and this geographical area is witnessing several external threats to its security caused by the current situations in the neighbouring area. Gulf Cooperation Council was founded in 1981 to respond to the security needs. Member countries of this council were able to overcome the various pressures and threats, besides surviving four wars that took place in the area with minimal impact. This was primarily due to the belief in the principles of security integration and mutual cooperation.

The second session, which discussed the modern methods of disaster and crisis management, was presided over by Dr. Saif Juma Aldhaheri, Director of Safety & Prevention, NCEMA. During the session, Dr Robert MacFarlane, Assistant Director (UK Resilience Doctrine and Training) in the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Cabinet Office-UK, explained the innovative techniques in responding to disasters, while Mr. Alex Stephen - General Manager for Government and Public Safety & Security in Telstra - Australia, presented the Australian experience in the creation of a national system to inform and alert the public. Additionally, Mrs Luna Abu-Swaireh, Head of the Regional Office for Arab States of the United Nations Office for UN Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) in Cairo, outlined the priorities of the Sendai Framework.

The second day is expected to witness two keynote speeches: the first by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, delivered on H.H’s behalf by His Excellency Mohammed Fares Al Mazroui, Assistant Minister for security and military affairs. The second by Her Excellency Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, President of the Federal National Council, will be delivered on her behalf by H.E Obaid Salem Al Hesan Al Shamsi, a member of the Federal National Council. Moreover, three sessions will also discuss global changes, causes, consequences and solutions, the pivotal role of the media during crises and disasters, and the challenges and solutions in the recovery stage management. Additionally, two workshops will discuss the strategic planning in emergency and crisis management, and the mechanism of readiness building.

It is worth mentioning that the since its inception in 2008, Crisis and Emergency Management Conference, held in Abu Dhabi, is one of the leading specialised conferences that has been,- and still is - an initiative unique in the Middle East. The conference has addressed in its first four sessions (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014) topics and themes of paramount importance at the local, regional and international levels. It has strengthened the awareness and knowledge of all participants and observers regarding the correct and effective emergency and crisis management, which emphasises the pivotal role played by the United Arab Emirates, as one of the key security, stability and peace makers.

 

Source: Viola.Public Relations