Beijing, June 4, 2007 — More than 90 representatives from Chinese government disaster management agencies, Chinese and international enterprises and non-government organizations attended The Asia Foundationâ€™s Private Sector Disaster Management Workshops in Beijing and Shanghai last week. The workshops launched The Asia Foundation’s two-year project to enhance private sector participation in, and contributions to, community-level disaster preparedness, risk reduction, and relief initiatives. The project encourages multi-sectoral approaches to disaster management aimed at promoting greater collaboration among government agencies, private enterprises, and local charities and relief organizations. This effort is being supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
As one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, every year China has more than 200 million people affected and thousands killed by natural disasters. Annual economic losses account for 1-2% percent of GDP. While disaster management systems are well advanced in terms of physical structure and government processes, involvement of the private sector and non-governmental organizations has been limited.
The workshops were designed to raise awareness of disaster preparedness among Chinese and U.S. companies operating in China. Speakers included an international disaster management expert and representatives from the Public-Private Partnerships for Disaster Management programâ€™s key partners: the Department of Disaster and Social Relief of the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MOCA), the International Department of the Chinese Enterprise Confederation (CEC), and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham).
â€śI am convinced that this workshop will further catalyse the communication and cooperation between industry, government and civil society both in China and abroad. It will help spread the values of corporate social responsibility farther and wider,â€ť Wang Zhenyao, Director General of the Department of Disaster and Social Relief of MOCA, said in Beijing on Monday.
â€śWe can see that these workshops have already demonstrated a strong and growing collaboration among government agencies, private enterprises, and non-governmental organizations. We look forward to forging even greater collaboration as we carry out the many project activities that lie ahead,â€ť Jonathan Stromseth, China Country Representative of The Asia Foundation, said.
The project also supports activities in communities in two coastal cities, Qingdao and Ningbo, both of which are frequently affected by natural disasters and have vibrant and growing business communities with the potential to participate in disaster preparedness and relief activities. The project is also conducting private sector workshops in these cities and will carry out disaster management training for local charities and community groups, community-based public-awareness campaigns, and vulnerability reduction projects. Next year, the project will also include training workshops in disaster preparedness for the private sector. Ultimately, the project aims to create a collaborative model of community-based preparedness and mitigation initiatives that can be replicated outside immediate project areas.