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International Recovery Platform

International workshop on post-earthquake reconstruction experiences

International workshop on post-earthquake reconstruction experiences was organized in China on 14-15 July 2008.

The International Workshop on Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Experiences was jointly organized by the Ministry of Commerce and the United Nations1 in China on 14-15 July 2008 at the Swissotel, Beijing. Twenty-two resource persons were invited from six national governments, nine UN agencies, and five non-governmental organizations with implementation experience in post-disaster recovery.

The workshop was attended by approximately 200 Chinese government officials, academics, NGOs, bilateral international cooperation officials and United Nations officials.

The presentations and discussions at the workshop were rich in substance. The workshop covered a range of practical issues and lessons from past disaster response (see Workshop Agenda in Annex A). The experiences from India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka highlighted key components of building back better.

The opening speeches by the Deputy Minister of Commerce Ms Qiu Hong and Mr. Khalid Malik, United Nations Resident Coordinator for China set the tone of the workshop:

Deputy Minister of Commerce Ms Qiu Hong thanked the United Nations and the international community for their care and support to the Government of China in the response to the Wenchuan earthquake. The earthquake of May 12, 2008 was unprecedented in terms of damage and relief. It affected 400 counties and over 46 million people. The relief operations of the Government of China received the attention of the highest national authorities. Humanitarian assistance was received from the United Nations, international and private donors. The relief operation, the biggest in China’s history, focused on saving people’s lives.

The response is entering into a new phase of rebuilding and reconstruction. Policies and guidelines have been issued, and the focus is now on implementing the guidelines. Line ministries and local governments are assessing damage and environmental impact. The planning process, though urgent, requires meticulous attention.

The recovery and reconstruction will place emphasis on assisting the people, protecting the environment, improving basic living conditions and public facilities, adjusting town plans for a harmonious coexistence with nature, public and rural housing, economic development, disaster risk reduction, safety, and cultural heritage.

The Government of China and the Chinese people are resolute for a successful reconstruction.
United Nations Resident Coordinator Khalid Malik acknowledged the scale of the damage and its unprecedented nature, and referred to the remarks of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon: “The Chinese Government mounted a remarkable rescue and recovery effort that stands as an example of how united efforts can address extraordinary situations.” In a very short time, the social order in the earthquake affected areas has been restored. This is a great practice to be shared with the international community.

The Wenchuan earthquake has also received an outpouring of support from the international community. In particular, the contributions from the private sector have been unprecedented. The United Nations stands as a key partner of the Government of China in the earthquake response. The UN is already delivering support through the Consolidated Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and on July 16, 2008, the UN China Appeal for Early Recovery Support, which was prepared with the Government of China, will be launched.

This is a practical workshop to share what experiences can be avoided what lessons can be followed.
Workshops of this nature have been organized before in Indonesia in the post-tsunami context and in South Asia in the post-earthquake context. This workshop, based on a request from the Government of China, will contribute to the current recovery and reconstruction planning process.

International experiences have shown that successful recovery and reconstruction needs to incorporate speed and expediency, community involvement, coordination, and the contributions of all. The UN stands ready to play an active and supportive role to the Government of China.

The workshop discussion was summarized in the closing speeches by the Director of the ILO Office for China and Mongolia, Ms Constance Thomas, speaking on behalf of the UN China, and Director General of International Cooperation, Ministry of Commerce, Mr Zhang Kening. Mr Kening expressed the Government of China’s commitment to build the best back in Sichuan. Both thanked the participants and their organizations for their valuable contributions to the workshop.
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