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AIDF Asia-Pacific 2013: New Aid and Development Forum Spotlights Thailand as Operational Hub

The Asia-Pacific edition of Washington, DC-based AIDF offers a sharper regional focus for international aid professionals and policy makers.

Thailand has gained renewed support from the world’s aid, relief and development sectors with the successful launch of Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF) Asia-Pacific in Bangkok earlier this year. The annual event is modelled after the flagship Washington, DC-based AIDF, and proved to be an effective platform for procurement professionals, practitioners and policy leaders from governments, NGOs and private enterprises to address key issues and explore new partnerships. It attracted more than 1,000 participants from around the world.

Dialogue with the private sector

Oliver Lacey Hall, Head, Regional Office for Asia and Pacific, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), said the Bangkok event marks “the new beginning of a potential process by which we are able to broaden and deepen the somewhat hesitant dialogue between aid workers and organisations and the private sector.”

According to its organiser, AIDF Asia-Pacific complements its annual show in the US. Where Washington, DC is a centre of humanitarian funding and policy decisions, Bangkok is a centre of operational activity and international support for both the humanitarian relief and development sectors.

Bangkok is home to 25 United Nations offices as well as governmental development agencies from Japan (JICA), Australia (AUSAID), the UK (DFID) and US (USAID). Major NGOs based in Bangkok include Save the Children, CARE Thailand (Raks Thai Foundation) and Habitat for Humanity International.

This first edition of AIDF Asia-Pacific attracted 75 exhibitors from the world over, including the US, China, India, Australia, Norway and the UK. They represented companies in logistics, shelter, food, water, sanitation, medical, nutrition, energy, finance, education and agriculture. 

John Leach, Head of Operations, ShelterBox, said, “Asia is a hub of humanitarian operations and an event (such as AIDF Asia-Pacific) to increase coordination in the region is welcome.”

The majority of attendees were from ASEAN, North Asia, Europe and North America. 107 speakers — including representatives from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Vision, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and United Nations organisations such as UNOCHA, UNESCAP, UNAIDS, UNOPS and UNDP — participated in more than 25 interactive sessions. 

Birgitte Olsen, Head of Global Logistics Service of IFRC, said, “The forum was a great opportunity for us to engage in expert discussions, share relevant knowledge and learn from the experience of others. The world today is facing diverse challenges and the humanitarian business needs to keep up.”

 

A ready platform

Host country Thailand was ready for such an event. Kevin Whitcraft, CEO of RMA Group, said he was pleased with the number of participating NGOs and that “Thailand functions as one of the primary operational hubs for aid in the Asia-Pacific”. 

Sula Bruce, AIDF Event Director, said, “AIDF Asia-Pacific has been a tremendous success. We have been overwhelmed with the level of support the event has received from leading international aid agencies, key UN organisations as well as local governments and NGOs.”

The AIDF was based in Geneva from 2006 but moved to Washington, DC in 2009. AIDF Asia-Pacific was held from January 30-31, 2013 at IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Center in partnership with RMA Group. It was supported by Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau.

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