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

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

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.

Garaebiti was instrumental in the design and rollout of the Oceania Regional Seismic Network across Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Samoa. With ORSNET, the region has an improved tsunami detection system and, as such, reduced risks of tsunami in these countries. She is also an advocate for the Melanesia volcano network between PNG, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, to reduce the risks of volcanic eruptions in Melanesia.

Borah, a researcher from India, is this year’s recipient of the WIN DRR Leadership Awards-Rising Star Award. Borah has been working toward 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 percent 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. The UNDRR, the Australian Government, and SM Prime presented the awards on 21 September at the Plaza Gallery, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, during the Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, 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,” Mizutori added.

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 recovery.”


Christine Clark, Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, presents Dr. Homolata Borah of India the Women’s International Network for Disaster Risk Reduction Leadership Awards — Rising Star 2022. (Photo courtesy of SM)

“When we look at the next generation of women leaders, Dr. Homolata Borah is truly a rising star in disaster risk reduction,” said Mizutori. “By putting communities at the center 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.”

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 Jessica Sy also spoke during the event. She stated that SM Prime is “privileged to be a partner of UNDRR, WIN DRR, 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.”

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, 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.

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