Background Information

In the last few years, humanitarian emergencies have been strongly impacted by climate change. Additionally, due to the challenges imposed by the pandemic, the humanitarian landscape has become even more complex. Therefore, there have been increasing discussions on ways to effectively deploy INSARAG teams in disasters beyond those strictly involving collapsed structures. Those events can often be caused by hydrometeorological and climatological reasons which could make INSARAG teams’ skills extremely relevant, such as specialized capacities for water rescue and flood disaster response.

Given the significant resources and costs associated with the establishment and maintenance of certified USAR teams as well as of their deployments, it is reasonable to explore ways on how to best maximize these professional life-saving resources of USAR teams under the INSARAG’s umbrella, and through global consultations with the three regional groups of INSARAG.

INSARAG has proved to remain flexible and effective despite the challenges of the pandemic and amidst a complex humanitarian environment. The FRWG will aim to contribute to the INSARAG network to continue being relevant and nimble despite the new challenges. The INSARAG network will be strengthened as a result of the review and further development of the Flexible Response concept, the strengthening of teams’ deployments in the BtR phase including the DACC concept and INSARAG’s role in response to affected areas where cultural heritage sites exist. 


The FRWG is composed of three Sub-Working Groups with respective assignments:

  1. Sub-WG A Global Position with 19 members, will develop a global INSARAG position on Flexible (Operational) Response, based on the drafted Regional Position Papers on this topic in 2020. The scope of the global position on Flexible Response can also encompass the response beyond collapsed structures and earthquakes, as some regions have already implemented this successfully.
  2. Sub-WG B Disasters Assessment Coordination Center (DACC) with 22, members will develop the Damage Assessment Coordination Centre (DACC) guidelines and methodology.
  3. Sub-WG C Cultural Heritage with 10 members, will review the draft UNESCO Guidelines on Response to Cultural Heritage and draft an INSARAG Technical Guidance Note on “INSARAG’s Response to Cultural Heritage Sites”.

FRWG OV Co-Chairs and SubWG Co-Chairs

Paolo VaccariItalyEurope (AEME)OV Co
Paul BaxterAustraliaAsia-PacificOV Co
Thomas ZeiterSwitzerlandEurope (AEME)Sub-WG A
Co Chair
Otty RusinarsetyoIndonesiaAsia-PacificSub-WG A
Co Chair
Solveig ThorvaldsdottirIcelandEurope (AEME)Sub-WG B
Co Chair
Joshua MacabuagUK/SARAIDEurope (AEME)Sub-WG B
Co Chair
Jing WangChinaAsia-PacificSub-WG C
Co Chair
Co Chair

Meeting Summaries:

Chairman Summary of the Meeting with the entire Flexible Response Working Group (FRWG), Friday 17th September, available on this LINK

Key Documents:

Draft ToR – Flexible Response WG, available on this LINK.

Final List of Participants, available on this LINK

Annex A: INSARAG New-Year Teleconference Chairman’s Summary (includes Summary of regional positions on Flexible Response)

Annex B: Draft UNESCO Field Guidelines for USAR at Heritage SitesFor Annex C: Draft FRWG Timeline