Why did you want to be part of the LACER project?
I have implemented capacity building projects in Southeast Asia, a region that I respect and hold dear, but the LACER project offers a big leap in scope, given the significant number of people served by the project and its partner institution the AHA Centre. The ASEAN countries have a combined population north of 650 million people and collectively face growing risks from natural disasters and their increasing impact. We witness this with quite regularity now, as recurring earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, flooding, and pandemics take a big toll on the region. I sought this role because I see myself solidly contributing to addressing this widening humanitarian challenge and the urgent need to reduce the scale of damage, injury and economic loss caused by disasters.
What change do you specifically want to contribute to and what in your background and competence contribute to the project?
The AHA Centre has a dedicated team of qualified staff that is currently delivering services across a number of key functions of disaster preparedness, response and recovery. I want to build on this and help the AHA team to achieve improved capacity in these areas and indeed over the broader range of project areas made accessible by LACER, while in parallel using the links created by the project to strengthen institutional ties between ASEAN bodies and their counterparts in the EU. I am convinced that this cooperation will give a big boost to the overall capacity in disaster risk reduction and management (DRR/DRM).
My background, which combines more than 15 years of experience leading initiatives in humanitarian response and capacity strengthening in DRR/DRM, will greatly assist me in making the LACER project a success. Moreover, I am used to working in different countries and cultures, a capability which may prove very useful in the ASEAN region, which encompasses many different ethnicities, languages, cultures and histories. Being aware of the distinctions between peoples is, in my experience, rather helpful for project implementation.
Mutual learning is an important component of our partnership principles. What do you hope to learn from the project?
Like MSB in Sweden, each national disaster management organisation across the ASEAN region each has a unique way of working and a national context in which it operates. This makes cooperation very complex but at the same time rewarding because each agency can contribute something special and important to the regional effort. I am really eager and interested to expand my learning of how these national agencies undertake key functions such as preparedness and mitigation to understand their potential contribution to the regional capacity.
Last but not least, what do you look forward to the most right now?
I have a very hands-on approach to my work. So I would say that above all, I look forward to quickly deploying to Jakarta and meeting my counterparts in the AHA Centre in person, getting more familiar with the team there and ongoing activities, as well as launching new activities under the project. We have a lot of exciting initiatives coming up and I am eager to roll these out together with our highly capable partners across the ASEAN region.
Charles and his family (wife Gitu and children Olivier, 8 and Leah, toddler) have their home base in Stockholm, but have been on the road for many years, working in humanitarian contexts such as Myanmar and Iraq. The family spent several years in Nepal, where both parents engaged in rebuilding infrastructure damaged by the devastating earthquakes of 2015. They live an active lifestyle and enjoy skiing, sailing and hiking together.