UNOPS emphasizes effectiveness at World Reconstruction Conference

COPENHAGEN – UNOPS stressed the potential for private-sector engagement in disaster risk reduction and recovery during presentations at the World Reconstruction Conference (WRC2), held at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC, from 10-12 September.

With natural hazards on the rise, the need to explore the relationship between resilient disaster recovery and sustainable development has become increasingly evident. This imperative was the focus of the recent WRC2, the second global conference aimed at facilitating the sharing of knowledge and lessons learned on post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, building on the first reconstruction conference held in Geneva in 2011.

This year's conference was hosted in Washington, DC, by the World Bank-managed Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, in partnership with the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme, the International Recovery Platform, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and other development partners.

Opened by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, the event brought together over 500 leading experts, practitioners and stakeholders from government, civil society and the private sector for discussions around the theme: 'Resilient Recovery: An Imperative for Sustainable Development'.

These discussions were intended to build momentum and help inform decision makers ahead of the third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction scheduled to take place in Japan in March 2015, where a post-2015 framework for Disaster Risk Reduction will be adopted.

The conference also marked the global launch of two new guides on reconstruction and recovery, the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment and the Disaster Recovery Framework, jointly developed by the United Nations, the World Bank, and the European Union. These practical guides focus on reconstruction and resilience, in the context of helping communities 'build back better' after disasters. Engaging communities in disaster prevention and preparedness as well as in recovery was highlighted by many panellists as a key aspect in disaster risk reduction and recovery.

Efficient and Effective Reconstruction

UNOPS Regional Director for Africa Garry Conille spoke of the trade-offs between efficiency and effectiveness in post-disaster reconstruction and of UNOPS experience in ensuring that a proper balance between the two is reached, using examples from Haiti.

"At UNOPS we strive to balance efficiency and effectiveness by evaluating sustainability at every stage of a project," said Mr Conille, adding that: "Incorporating these considerations into post-disaster reconstruction is vital to ensuring that the projects we deliver are fit for purpose and produce lasting results."

Exploring private sector engagement

In addition, UNOPS infrastructure assessment expert Stefan Kohler gave the opening remarks at a technical session on the role of private sector in recovery, alongside the Director of the Public-Private Partnerships Transaction Advisory Department of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group). Representatives from the private sector, including global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company also spoke.

During this session, discussions focused on exploring the role of the private sector in post-disaster recovery, and how the private and public sectors can join forces to facilitate the transition from humanitarian response to early recovery and reconstruction. Early engagement of the private sector was stressed as an important element in ensuring the right kind of input is obtained in the humanitarian phase, in order to inform the early recovery and subsequent reconstruction phase.

Disaster risk reduction at UNOPS

UNOPS helps partners around the world construct infrastructure that increases the resilience of communities against natural hazards. Our approach includes conducting infrastructure assessments, improving urban planning, developing local capacity, and designing and constructing more resilient infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads. UNOPS supports a wide range of projects, from building enhanced earthquake-resistant schools in Indonesia to protecting harbours in Sri Lanka against tidal waves. 

Further information about and examples of UNOPS work in the area of resilient recovery and disaster risk reduction are available in UNOPS latest Annual Report and in our factsheet on disaster risk reduction and recovery.