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APRU Multi-Hazards Program Core Group contributes to the first UNISDR Asia Science and Technology Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

23-24 August 2016, Bangkok, Thailand

The 1st Asian Science and Technology Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction was organised by the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII) of the Royal Thai Government and UNISDR Asia-Pacific office, in collaboration and support of Asian Science Technology and Academia Advisory Group (ASTAAG), Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) and other scientific organisations and networks.

This conference brought together key DRR policy-makers and representatives of key scientific organisations from Asian countries to discuss on strengthening the science-policy interface towards science based DRR policy development. APRU was represented by three Multi-Hazards Core Group members:

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Prof. Kuniyoshi Takeuchi, Advisor to the International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) spoke about “Integrated research bridging science and society through transdisciplinary approach”.

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Prof. Supot Teachavorasinskun, Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University shared his experience through his presentation “The impact of investment in disaster risk reduction based on the assessment on economic growth, safety and wellbeing of the general public”.

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Dr Takako Izumi who is the APRU Multi-Hazards Program Coordinator and from the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University summarised the presentations and discussions made under Session 2 and reported to the audience. She also played a key role to the preparation of this conference from the initial stage as an ASTAAG member by sharing her inputs on the program, speakers and draft outcome document.

The key recommendations and messages from this two-day dialogue will feed in to the discussions at the succeeding Asian Science Conference in Bangkok and subsequently at the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction 2016 in New Delhi.

15 September 2016
Published in APRU News

Research universities seek solutions for earthquake-prone Asia Pacific

New report reveals the impact of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities on the region’s greatest challenges
By Brad Fenwick, DVM, PhD

Anyone who has flown from the west coast of the United States to Asia knows the vast expanse of the Asia Pacific region. Rich in natural resources, it spans about a third of the Earth’s surface and is home to the world’s most influential economic centers as well as the 45 prestigious research institutions that make up the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU).

During the past two decades, events of both natural and manmade origins have had devastating impacts on the region. Such tumult was the impetus behind the APRU Impact Report 2016, a comprehensive study of comparative data and case studies demonstrating the impact of the work of APRU’s member universities on their societies and the region’s challenges.

In-depth analysis in the 70-page report draws extensively on research metrics provided by Elsevier. It includes more than two dozen case studies and graphics about critical global issues such as health and infectious disease, investment in education and workforce readiness, environmental changes and disaster preparedness, population demographics, global religions, exports and trade.

The report’s findings were presented by APRU Secretary General Dr. Christopher Tremewan at the APRU Annual Presidents Meeting 2016 at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Mayasia. It is the first phase of a three-year pilot project intended to provide data and analysis of use to regional policymakers on ways to develop the region’s economies in a sustainable way.

One area of focus is the volatility of the region’s geologic composition, which has caused devastating tsunamis, floods and other natural disasters. It is estimated that 90 percent of all earthquakes occur along the “Ring of Fire,” where 75 percent of the Earth’s active volcanoes are located.

During the past decade, the region has incurred more than $1.7 trillion in economic damage affecting 2.9 billion people, according to estimates from the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Much of the increasing impact of such disasters can be attributed to the region’s growing urbanization; it is home to some of the world’s most densely populated cities, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Taipei. The Philippines, with its capital city Manila, is often regarded as the most densely populated city in the world with 41,515 people per square kilometer, and has been identified as the most at-risk nation on the planet by the United Nations. Safer and more resilient infrastructure and more effective early warning systems will be key to minimizing the impact of future catastrophes upon the area’s inhabitants, according to the impact report.

Several APRU universities are collaborating on ways to mitigate the impact of such disasters as part of the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). For example, a partnership between Tohoku University, National Taiwan University and the University of California’s Davis and Irvine campuses has resulted in an operational prototype of a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) early warning system for tsunamis. Deployment of additional GNSS stations and satellites at test locations on the Pacific Rim support the development of data sharing agreements among partners. The report details research case studies from Tohoku University, University of the Philippines, The University of Hawaii at Manoa, UC Davis and the University of Malaya on how the Multi-Hazards program has succeeded in enhancing disaster preparedness by improving critical dialogue between research communities, area governments, industry and civil society. They are focusing on developing disaster risk assessment methodologies and models and using traditional, indigenous and local knowledge and practices to complement scientific knowledge.

The area’s challenges are expected to grow during the 21st century as greater demands are made on the region’s environment and limited resources, but those involved hope that enhanced cooperation and collaboration among the region’s universities will continue to lead to solutions. “No single nation can solve the cross-border issues that confront them,” said Dr. Tremewan. “The value of international collaboration is crucial, and APRU is an ideal platform to facilitate the interdisciplinary research and partnerships required to find solutions to critical challenges facing the region.”

- Elsevier Connect
https://www.elsevier.com/connect/research-universities-seek-solutions-for-earthquake-prone-asia-pacific

12 September 2016
Published in APRU News

New Report Demonstrates Critical Role of Research Universities In Solving Asia-Pacific Challenges

News Release
For Immediate Release

New Report Demonstrates Critical Role of Research Universities
In Solving Asia-Pacific Challenges

Note to editors: A copy of the report can be downloaded at the link provided in this press release. You will find the data useful for stories on sustainability, climate change, urban development, health, Pacific Rim natural disasters, higher education investment and Asia-Pacific economic growth. Jpegs of the graphics in the report are available upon request.

Hong Kong, 19 August, 2016 – The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) has released the APRU Impact Report 2016, a comprehensive study of comparative data and case studies demonstrating the value and impact of the work of the 45 APRU member universities, on their societies and the challenges of the region.

In-depth analysis and more than two dozen case studies and graphics about critical global issues are featured covering health, infectious diseases, investment in education and workforce readiness, environmental changes and disaster preparedness, population demographics, global religions, exports and trade. It is the first phase of a three-year pilot project that identifies information and analyses that will be useful to policymakers considering policy options arising from the region’s opportunities and risks.

One particular area of focus in the Report details how APRU’s Multi-Hazards Program led from the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan and other member universities across the Asia-Pacific, are collaborating to build safer and more resilient societies on the ‘Ring of Fire’ which are susceptible to tsunami, floods, earthquakes and volcanic activity. Through education and research, the Multi-Hazards program has succeeded in enhancing disaster preparedness measures on campuses and improving dialogue with governments, industry and civil society. These efforts are instrumental to the implementation of the Sendai Framework, which was adopted at the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in March 2015.

Christopher Tremewan, APRU Secretary General, presented the findings of the Impact Report at the recent APRU Annual Presidents Meeting, in Kuala Lumpur. “No single nation can solve the cross-border issues that confront them, said Dr.Tremewan. “The value of international collaboration is crucial, and APRU is an ideal platform to facilitate the interdisciplinary research and partnerships required to find the solutions to the critical challenges of the region.” 

The APRU Impact Report draws extensively on research metrics provided by data partner Elsevier, one of the world’s largest data companies and publishers

Download the report at http://apru.org/press/news/item/660-apru-impact-report-2016.

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About APRU

The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) is an international network of 45 leading research universities from 17 APEC economies.

APRU was established in 1997 by the presidents of the California Institute of Technology (Thomas Everhart), the University of California, Berkeley (Chang-Lin Tien), the University of California, Los Angeles (Charles Young) and the University of Southern California (Steven B. Sample). Seeing the rapid economic integration of the Asia-Pacific region and the formation of APEC, their inspiration was to create APRU as the premier alliance of leading research universities in the region as an advisory body to international organisations, governments and business on the development of science and innovation, and on the broader development of higher education. The vision now encompasses focusing new knowledge on the global challenges affecting the region.

Located initially in Los Angeles and then in Singapore, the APRU International Secretariat is now based in Hong Kong on the campus of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and make ground-breaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress.  Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey — and publishes over 2,500 journals and more than 33,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.  Elsevier is part of RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.

For additional information, or to arrange media interviews please contact:

Ashley Pereira

Communications Manager, APRU

Tel: +852 3469 2550

Fax:  +852 2719 5756

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marie Gentile

Finn Partners New York

Tel: 1646-213-7249

Mobile: 1917-679-6299

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

19 August 2016
Published in APRU News

APRU Presidential Retreat and 20th Annual Presidents Meeting

Collaborating across borders to resolve societies’ most pressing challenges

APRU Presidential Retreat and 20th Annual Presidents Meeting, Kuala Lumpur, 26-28 June 2016 
  1. APRU Impact Report Launched
  2. Leading Economists Highlight International Shifts
  3. Presidential Statement On Gender Equity And Diversity
  4. UCLA Chancellor Takes Over As Chair Of APRU
  5. Presidential Retreat: Presidents Exchange Views On Common Challenges
  6. APRU’s Directions
  7. University of Malaya– The Perfect Host

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Click here to view APRU Impact Report 2016 and Executive Summary.
Click here to view APM photographs. 
Click here to view APM video.
Click here to view program, list of participants and presentations. 

 APRU Impact Report Launched

The APRU Impact Report 2016 provides for the first time the evidence base for the contribution of leading research universities to the Asia-Pacific’s most pressing challenges and to the social and economic well-being of societies. This report provides an overview of the expertise of APRU’s member universities and the current state of play regarding international collaboration in key fields of research and education. It does this through contextual data, research metrics and case studies. 

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(Photo: University of Malaya)

President Tony Chan, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), demonstrated how APRU presidents could employ the report on the public policy front, for instance, as a useful piece of resource to inform government agencies, such as the University Grants Committee in Hong Kong, on the contribution of research universities on resolving societies’ most pressing challenges, whilst advocating for further investment in research.

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(Photo: University of Malaya)

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic & International) Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud, University of Malaya (UM), spoke about UM’s contribution to society by highlighting two cases in the report. They were case study 9: UM’s Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS’ (CERIA) needle exchange and methadone programme efforts reduced the spread of HIV epidemics driven by drug injection; and case study 21: UM’s Centre for Separation Science and Technology’s (CSST) built a mobile ultrafiltration system which supplied clean water to disaster victims.

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(Photo: University of Malaya) 

Dr Brad Fenwick, Senior Vice President for Global Strategic Alliances, Elsevier, and APRU Senior Advisor, stated that the report provided tangible and direct evidence of the high calibre impact that APRU institutions have made through international collaboration among member universities.

10 August 2016
Published in APRU News

APRU partners with PRRLA

At the recent Annual Presidents Meeting in June, the Steering Committee agreed that the Pacific Rim Research Libraries Alliance (PRRLA) should be recognised as an affiliate organisation of APRU.

The consensus was to recommend affiliation with PRRLA rather than attempt to create a parallel organisation exclusively of APRU library directors.  It was decided by the university presidents that APRU library directors who are not currently members of PRRLA be invited to join.

Currently, PRRLA consists of 21 APRU library directors, along with 12 other institutions in the region (see membership).

PRRLA is an organisation with a strategic focus on cooperative ventures across academic libraries located around the Pacific Rim with the goal of improving access to scholarly research materials.

The organisation began as the Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance over twenty years ago.  A key activity is its annual, three-day meeting in a location that rotates between the eastern and western sides of the Pacific.

PRRLA's next meeting will be held at the University of Melbourne from 5-7 December 2016.  For more information, see www.pr-rla.org/annual-meetings/melbourne-2016/.

The current PRRLA Chair is Ms. Lorelei Tanji, University Librarian, University of California Irvine Libraries and she is happy to answer any queries regarding membership and participation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

03 August 2016
Published in APRU News

TPP is a win for Asia's digital economy

TPP is a win for Asia's digital economy

By Jim Foster

After nearly 20 years, the internet now stands to deliver on the vision that it promised when first conceived. The emerging digital economy will benefit not just existing companies in the internet space, but countless startups and "old economy" businesses that can respond flexibly and quickly. Perhaps no region stands to gain more from this than Asia.

Yet the actions taken by defense ministries and law enforcement authorities in this area may be just as critical as those made by finance and trade offices. There is a real danger that unilateral assertions of national cyber-sovereignty could fragment Asia's internet and set back the development of an economically integrated and vibrant cyberspace in the region.

In this regard, the recent signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is both very welcome and timely. The TPP may not be the solution to every problem, but it moves the region in the right direction. Even if not fully implemented, the agreement's chapters on e-commerce can be a core around which businesses large and small can move to the cloud and serve regional and global markets.

For a country like Japan, the importance of the digital economy to overall growth is keenly appreciated, if not completely realized. Its likely early accession to the TPP underscores how the agreement is about much more than agricultural liberalization and autoparts tariffs. 

Similarly, South Korea's recent adoption of the world's first cloud promotion law highlights the intent of government and industry to move beyond the currently saturated domestic information technology market. While South Korea is currently outside the TPP, the agreement will undoubtedly be a spur for the country's "best in market" companies to adjust their policies and perspectives to the new norms sanctioned by the treaty.

As companies consider the opportunities offered in regional markets opened up by the trade pact, there remains a concern as to whether it can deliver on its stated principles. To the extent that the TPP can result in greater alignment of regulations for the digital economy across Asia, the new treaty will help local businesses move quickly to scale by opening markets for goods and services throughout the region.

At the same time, there is controversy over whether the provisions in the TPP in the competition policy area are too weak to provide meaningful protections to smaller players going up against global giants in their home markets. There is a need for more evidence-based research on the pact's impact on competition in national markets and in the region.

A related issue is the contribution of the TPP to improving consumer welfare and protection. Will agreeing to the provisions diminish the signatories' ability to protect domestic users? And can the dispute-resolution mechanisms envisioned in the agreement provide meaningful and timely remedies? This is not yet entirely clear and is again an area for further research. But there is no denying that a key benefit of the digital economy is the way it empowers consumers through greater access to information and cross-border markets.

The transition to a new set of digital economic arrangements will inevitably produce winners and losers. What the Asian economy may look like five years from today depends on many factors, but the TPP will certainly reinforce trends leading to a digitally based regional economy. Countries are joining the agreement because they want to gain the maximum advantage from this shift and in the process are creating a powerful and progressive new trading bloc that is premised on deployment and greater utilization of new internet technologies.

The pact still faces many hurdles. Its image as an innovative arrangement for dealing with the next generation of trade issues has been buffeted by strong suspicions and complaints about the secretive and nontransparent nature of its negotiation process. This may be the first time that a trade agreement of the TPP's complexity has been held to this standard. But if it is to be ratified and implemented, its sponsors will need to address these concerns.

This effort will require mechanisms for building trust and reaching out beyond the traditional trade community. Privacy is a good example. The question of who "owns" the data flows that the TPP facilitates is a problem that can involve the data-protection authorities of multiple jurisdictions. The future impact of the trade deal on the region's digital economy will depend in part on its capacity to serve as a framework for forging innovative responses to such transnational issues.

Jim Foster is executive director of The Asia Pacific Institute for the Digital Economy, a regional think tank based in Tokyo and associated with Keio University. The article is based on discussions at an April 11-12, 2016 conference of academic experts and business leaders convened in Tokyo by the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) as part of a multi-year program of research and exchange on “Governing the Digital Economy in the Asia Pacific Region.”

- Nikkei Asian Review
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Jim-Foster-TPP-is-a-win-for-Asia-s-digital-economy?page=1

29 June 2016
Published in APRU News