World Bank, UN, and disaster-hit countries join forces at the first ever World Reconstruction Conference to rethink how to rebuild and recover from major disasters
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, May 9, 2011— Over two thousand political leaders, community representatives, international donors, the private sector and experts are meeting for the first time this week to rethink how the global community works together when countries hit by disasters need help to recover and reconstruct.
The World Reconstruction Conference (WRC) is organized by the World Bank, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).
“The World Reconstruction Conference is a pivotal moment—an opportunity to agree on a global road map for more coordinated, better financed, higher-quality reconstruction after disasters,” said Zoubida Allaoua, Director of the World Bank’s Finance, Economics and Urban Development Department, speaking at the pre-conference launch. “No country is immune, but it is poor countries who are most vulnerable and who find their development prospects set back years by disasters. If recovery is done right, it opens real opportunities for sustainable development.”
Drawing on over 30 years’ experience financing disaster reconstruction and recovery, preparedness, and risk mitigation, the World Bank, working with its partner countries, has learned valuable lessons from reconstruction programs. Success relies on strong political commitment from government, institutions equipped to implement, proper planning, monitoring and coordination, and timely access to finance and technical expertise.
These key ingredients, however, are not always present. Challenges include the lack of coordination among international organizations and governments, and uneven and unpredictable financing that doesn’t always reach those who need it. Also under debate is the critical fact that—even though it can save lives and money in the future—few countries incorporate disaster prevention systematically into their reconstruction planning. These issues are at the top of the agenda this week, including the questions of how to coordinate effectively and provide timely and flexible financing.
Countries represented at the conference include those most recently hit by natural disasters, including Australia, Chile, China, Colombia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lesotho, Pakistan and Turkey, among others.
Alan March, Assistant Director General, Humanitarian and Peacebuilding Branch at the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) said the purpose of the event was clear:
“There are clear humanitarian, development and economic imperatives for us all to do more to prevent, prepare for and to respond to disasters. At the World Reconstruction Conference, our focus will be on what happens after survivors have been rescued, and the life-saving aid has been delivered. For the longer term recovery and reconstruction phase, we need clearer frameworks on how aid should be financed, coordinated and kept effective”, March said. "This Conference will progress international agreements to this end." March’s words underline the theme of the conference, “Rethinking Reconstruction for a Safer Future.”
The way forward would be the development of an effective recovery and reconstruction framework in close collaboration and partnership with all the actors—the EU, United Nations, multilateral development banks, international organizations, governments, the private sector, and the NGO community.
“Japan is ready to share its experience gained from the last disaster with the international community and lay out its plan for reconstruction. We also intend to contribute actively to the discussion of a future global framework for disaster prevention” said Kenichi Suganuma, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva. “This World Reconstruction Conference comes at a timely juncture and is an important step towards advancing the discussion.”
Delegates are now arriving in Geneva, Switzerland to participate in the World Reconstruction Conference, which is taking place alongside the UNISDR Global Platform for Disaster Reduction.