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The WADEM Oceania Chapter, Who are We?

Posted by: Joseph Cuthbertson; 17 September 2016; 4:13 am

Recent WADEM Oceania committee discussions have considered what the chapters core business is and whom the chapter interacts with. This has provided the opportunity to revisit the original WADEM Chapter proposal that sought to define, what, and who WADEM Oceania is.

(Original WADEM Chapter proposal)

The term “Oceania” was originally used to indicate the intended geography of this proposed WADEM Regional Chapter. Australia and New Zealand are included in the Western Pacific Regional Office of WHO (http://www.wpro.who.int/), which extends from China to the Pitcairn Islands (http://www.who.int/about/regions/wpro/en/) . It is felt that this is too large a geographical area for a single WADEM Chapter to be effective and efficient.

OCHA includes an Oceania Region within the OCHA Regional Office for Asia Pacific, (http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/doc113?OpenForm&rc=5#show), which also roughly corresponds to the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) region.

For the purposes of these Bylaws, the WADEM Oceania Region generally corresponds to that area covered by SOPAC, which includes the area supported by AusAID and NZAID, i.e. Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Island Nations, and Papua New Guinea. Flexibility is required at this stage of the evolution of WADEM Chapters. Members located in adjacent countries, e.g. Honolulu, East Timor and Indonesia, may choose to be included in the Oceania Regional Chapter.

The original chapter proposal identifies variances that continue to exist in defining the boundaries of Oceania. With the initiation of the recently formed ‘WADEM Disaster Metrics’ Section it may be of use to consider what methods are used to describe Oceania for research purposes. The Centre for Research and Epidemiology in Disasters (CRED) is an international reference for disaster research and apply the UN regional division (http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm) for classification.

This definition of Oceania is comprised of:

Australia and New Zealand

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Norfolk Island

Melanesia

  • Fiji
  • New Caledonia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Solomon Islands
  • Vanuatu

Micronesia

  • Guam
  • Kiribati
  • Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia (Federated States of)
  • Nauru
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Palau

Polynesia

  • American Samoa
  • Cook Islands
  • French Polynesia
  • Niue
  • Pitcairn
  • Samoa
  • Tokelau
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Wallis and Futuna Islands

Of note, the CRED/UN regional definition does not include Asia or South East Asia whereas the WHO classification does. This is of relevance as these regions are consistently overrepresented with the burden of disaster impact and effect. Their inclusion when assessing Oceania would considerably alter measurable disaster impact in the region.

The consideration of the WADEM definition of Oceania is complex and should articulate the broader WADEM strategy (https://wadem.org/about/misson/) and reflect the Chapter’s capacity to engage the region. Equally, in an increasingly connected world the concept of global citizenship calls into question how current and future chapters engage internally and externally to best serve humanity.