On 8 November 2019, New Delhi, India, hosted the 10th SCO Meeting of Heads of Emergency Prevention and Relief Agencies, chaired by India's Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah.
The meeting brought together heads and deputy heads of emergency prevention and relief agencies, as well as representatives of diplomatic missions accredited in New-Delhi, and members of the SCO Secretariat.
During the meeting, the heads of delegations reported on the main emergencies in the SCO member states and the subsequent relief efforts. In addition, participants exchanged views on the prospects for cooperation in emergency prevention and relief within the SCO framework.
SCO Deputy Secretary-General Nurlan Akkoshkarov addressed the meeting on behalf of SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov. In his remarks, he praised the host for organising this high-profile meeting, noting that it was the first time a high-level meeting had been held in India since the country's accession to the organisation in 2017. He went on to highlight the importance of holding events in this format in terms of making the SCO space safer, as well as preventing potential challenges and threats related to major natural disasters and accidents. In conclusion, Mr Akkoshkarov pointed out that by taking part in joint emergency response exercises, the SCO member countries can significantly enhance the effectiveness of post-disaster recovery. Exercises of this kind took place between 4 and 6 November with a view to improving national and international emergency response mechanisms and coordination methods in case of a major earthquake requiring international assistance. By working together, emergency response teams from the SCO member states have been able to achieve the best outcomes in every undertaking when providing relief after a deadly earthquake or other natural disaster.
The participants in the meeting reaffirmed the need to step up joint efforts for strengthening cooperation on emergency prevention and relief, and committed to further expanding cooperation for implementing SCO agreements.
Moving on, the participants reviewed their joint initiatives in 2018 and 2019, and approved an Action Plan for carrying out the Intergovernmental SCO Agreement on Emergency Relief Cooperation in 2020-2021. This plan is designed to reinvigorate the collective efforts of the SCO member states in emergency response.
Following the meeting, the heads of delegations representing emergency prevention and relief agencies of the SCO member states signed the meeting minutes.
The participants recognised India for its success in the 2019 joint SCO exercise on earthquake search and rescue in New Delhi, and thanked the host for the well prepared meeting.
The Meeting of the Heads of Emergency Prevention and Relief Agencies is held regularly every two years. The Intergovernmental SCO Agreement on Emergency Relief Cooperation provides the SCO member states with a legal framework for cooperation in emergency prevention and relief.