The Right Honourable Prime Minister and Chair of this Session,
UN Under-Secretary General
President of ADB
Vice President of World Bank
Heads of Delegations
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honour and privilege to warmly welcome you all to the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction 2015 hosted by the Government of Nepal. I heartily welcome Hon. Ministers and heads of delegations from our neighbours, fellow SAARC members and other friendly countries. I also welcome heads of delegations from international organizations, agencies and all other international delegates to Kathmandu. Thank you very much for accepting our invitation and joining us at this event of national importance. We cherish your presence as an expression of profound goodwill and strong solidarity towards the people and Government of Nepal.
It has exactly been two months since Nepal was struck by the devastating earthquake. The damage caused by the earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks especially with respect to lives and property is incalculable. Our historical and cultural monuments of archaeological significance have been badly damaged. Equally alarming are the adverse impacts on the country’s economy and pursuit of internationally agreed development goals including the MDGs. The disaster is certain to unsettle the country’s achievements in human and social sectors and upset the national aspirations for swifter progress.
The video shown a while ago is just a cross- sectional presentation of the scale of devastation caused due to the earthquake. I am sure your participation in the Conference has provided you with an opportunity, including through yesterday’s field-visit program, to have the first-hand assessment of loss and damage and the need of reconstruction.
In the middle of the tremors and the consequential loss and damage, we have been encouraged by the remarkable resilience of the Nepalese people and support and cooperation of the friendly countries and the international community. The outpouring of solidarity and humanitarian support from the international community has been exemplary. This has provided us with the strength in the face of the national tragedy. I take this opportunity to thank all of our friends and well-wishers across the globe for their spontaneous and prompt response.
We should concede that we may have fallen short of the required preparedness for the disaster of this magnitude. However, the Government of Nepal acted promptly during rescue and relief operations in mobilizing its own resources and coordinating outside support. The existing regional and international frameworks have also been of tremendous help. And, the past two months, testing and difficult though they have been, have motivated us to get organized to ensure that we learn from the disaster. The earthquake-induced loss is tragic and irreparable; but it also has brought forth opportunities to rebuild the country better. The necessity now is to ‘walk the talk’ of ‘post disaster period as an opportunity’ discourse to ensure that it does not become a mere statement of intent but an expression of reality.
It is against such context that we are hosting this Conference. The preliminary Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) is now before you. It shows that the pathways to recovery would need about $6.7 billion. This is a huge amount for a least developed country like Nepal. In view of this, the Conference is important not only for bolstering our efforts towards recovery and reconstruction but also for building national resilience to be better placed and resourced to withstand the possible future disasters.
The theme of this Conference is ‘Towards a Resilient Nepal’. We have chosen the theme of resilience as we believe that it is perhaps one of the most critical issues facing the disaster prone country like Nepal. ‘Resilience’ can also arguably be a mobiliser for orienting actions towards recovery approach and building back better. This is also one of the guiding principles of the agreed international instruments on disaster risk reduction. Moreover, the ‘discourse of resilience’ is important not only from the point of view of building earthquake-resistant structures but also from planning our recovery and reconstruction works in such a way that they serve as strong guideposts to safer future. An ambitious but practicable and risk-informed reconstruction plan is critical in this regard.
Translating the vision of ‘Resilient Nepal’ into reality is not possible without the enhanced level of support from our friendly countries and the international community. For this, our concerted actions and sustained engagement at both national and international levels should be guided by the local conditions and the priorities of the communities. The international community needs to respond in a robust and yet highly coordinated manner. Such response may include, in addition to the financial support to Nepal’s reconstruction works, the substantial measures including through market access, technology transfer, announcement of special economic packages, encouragement to foreign direct investment (FDI), and tourism.
Our land may have been shaken by the geological movement and our foundation left unstable. The Nepalese people’s vigor and will-power to fight such hardships, however, has not diminished a bit. We are committed to making this tragedy a shifting ground for the settled and safer future. For this, an enhanced level of support and cooperation from our neighboring and friendly countries and the international community is extremely critical.
To conclude, I would once again like to welcome all of you to the Conference and hope that we will have productive deliberations today for the larger interest of the earthquake victims. I would also like to reiterate that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to reconstruction works in the aftermath of such disaster. Innovative and constructive approaches are necessary to respond to the specific needs of the victims. We are confident that we will be able to receive, as always, your steadfast support on this.
I thank you very much for your attention.