United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Representative in China
Chairperson of UN Disaster Management Working Party to China at “5.12” Wenchuan Earthquake and Catastrophe Response Symposium
Chengdu September 21-22, 2010
Mr. Liu Qibao, Mr. Hongyi, Mr. Weihong, provincial leaders from Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu Province, staff from UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, other UN agencies and other international organizations, distinguished guests, dear friends and colleagues, good morning!
I am deeply honored to come to Sichuan again and attend this symposium on behalf of UN disaster management working party to China.
About a year ago, UN system hosted a commemorative activity for the anniversary of UN’s releasing “UN China Appeal for Wenchuan Earthquake Early Recovery Support”. This Appeal, aiming at raising 33 million US dollars for the early recovery stage after the earthquake, was issued by UN at July 2008 as its support for Chinese government’s relief efforts. It was the first time the Chinese government welcomed international appeal for disaster assistance in the past decades. This Appeal, containing technical aid as well as material assistance, connecting needs in emergency relief and renovation.
In the future, UN system will, as it always has, play the role of a unique platform. International community and private sector can respond to the needs for relief efforts and post-quake reconstruction through this platform. This has also been recognized by the Chinese government. By now, all funds and project institutions affiliated to UN have raised 80 million US dollars for post-quake recovery and renovation. Among this sum of money nearly a quarter, namely, 19 million dollars were raised through the above-mentioned Appeal.
Today, after two and a half years (860 days) after the earthquake, we are gathering here to commemorate the 90 thousand lives lost in the earthquake. Yesterday, all of you here conducted an on-the-spot investigation, witnessing the arduous efforts taken for and the great achievement made in assisting earthquake victims and the stricken areas, as well as the great progress in earthquake-stricken areas. All of these were quite heartening.
The plan of reconstruction after Wenchuan Earthquake is unprecedented. We’d like to take this opportunity to know about its implementation status, longing for borrowing ideas from the experience. More importantly, we would like to learn from experience in relief-efforts and reconstruction and share the valuable knowledge with other countries and regions that also face the threat of disasters. I’d like to emphasize that to build a bridge of communication between China and other countries and regions in the world occupies an important part in UN system’s task in China.
You might know that UN system has been China’s development and cooperative partner in the past three decades. It is a role we are proud for. We have cooperated quite well with the government and civil society in various fields including reinforcing equality in social development, advancing the ability for social development, optimal management of natural resources, efficient use of energy, the prevention and control of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases, and enhancing China’s role in international cooperation. We have also cooperated in some other interdisciplinary areas such as social gender and climate change. Evidences have proved that under the background of global climate change, the whole world is confronted with the increasingly serious threats of natural disasters, so UN system has laid more emphasis on disaster prevention and mitigation than ever.
About 70% of China’s cities with about half of the total population of the country live in natural disaster-prone areas. China has suffered server flood, catastrophic earthquake and mudslide in this year. That’s why UN system in China, the Ministry of Commerce and other major ministries and commissions have specially set aside disaster management as an important part to regulate in the latest round of United Nations Development Framework in China (2011-2015 ). We hope that in the next five years, the cooperative partnership between UN and China will become richer in substance, and China’s link and cooperation with the world will be strengthened through multilateral cooperation.
Let me take this opportunity to express my admiration to the lasting and solid cooperative partnership between Chinese government and UN, at both central and local governmental levels. In terms of disaster relief and recovery and reconstruction, the cooperation between UN system and China attaches importance not only to bringing materials to China, but even more to bringing in international experience and practices as well as liaison between agencies. Such solid and truthful cooperation is well exemplified by this symposium. At present many agencies are giving the last finishing touches to the task of recovery and renovation, some are even heading towards further cooperation. This symposium provides a unique opportunity for agencies and organizations taking part in recovery and renovation to enhance interdisciplinary learning, draw lessons from experience and share successful cases.
Lastly, I would like to thank the provincial government of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu as well as National School of Administration for organizing this symposium. My gratitude also goes to experts from home and abroad, and my UN colleagues from other countries for their valuable contribution to the symposium.
I wish this symposium complete success! Thank you!