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JICA USA September/October 2014

JICA President Tanaka has productive consultations 2014 World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings

PhotoPanelists at the Resilience Dialogue held on October 10th.
Left to right: World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte; European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva; Moderator Kathleen Koch, Prime Minister of Grenada Keith Mitchell; USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg and JICA President Akihiko Tanaka.
[Photo courtesy of World Bank]

By Yumiko Locussol, Program Officer

Resilience Dialogue

JICA President Akihiko Tanaka visited Washington, D.C., on October 10 and 11 for the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) Annual Meetings.

On October 10, Dr. Tanaka participated in the 7th Resilience Dialogue, which took place along the sidelines of the Annual Meetings. In addition to Dr. Tanaka, the distinguished panel was comprised of World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva, USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg, and Prime Minister of Grenada Keith Mitchell. The discussion was moderated by former CNN Correspondent Kathleen Koch.

The development agencies represented noted that resilience is increasingly integrated into development assistance so as to better prepare communities against the shocks induced by natural disasters. Dr. Tanaka, drawing on Japan's vast experience dealing with disasters, stressed the importance of looking at countries' different levels of vulnerability when providing aid. He highlighted that it is important to assess the risks specific to each country, both as they related to frequent and infrequent disasters of varying magnitudes.

Dr. Tanaka also touched upon the need for financing mechanisms that are adapted to the diverse types of risks countries face, as well as the unique stages of reconstruction. It is with this belief in mind that JICA signed a $500 million ODA loan agreement with the Philippines to rapidly provide funds in a post-disaster context and credit for urgent recovery. Furthermore, Dr. Tanaka underscored the need to be exceptionally mindful of countries that are particularly vulnerable to climate shocks, such as small island states. When deciding which countries should be graduated from the International Development Association (IDA), he warned against mechanically applying criteria such as the economic growth rates because these do not capture a country's vulnerability to climate shocks, which can erase all progress made.

PhotoJICA President Tanaka speaks about understanding countries’ different levels of vulnerability. [Photo courtesy of World Bank]

With regards to the role of the private sector, Dr. Tanaka agreed with fellow panelists that it has an important part to play in building resilience, but he stressed that it is the government's strong will that will ensure resilient infrastructure. When building schools or investing in large-scale infrastructure projects, governments need to ensure that they are building them to sustain shocks, be they earthquakes, landslides or other disasters. The construction of multi-use facilities can be key in reducing damage, as was the case in Sendai, whose strategically placed expressway helped stopd the tsunami from advancing further inland, whose parking lots served as a centers from which to dispatch relief and whose schools acted as shelters.

The Resilience Dialogue served as an important venue at which to further the discussion on building resilience and the need to invest in prevention. JICA is eager to continue this conversation at the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be held in Sendai, Japan in March 2015.

Other key meetings

In addition to his participation in the Resilience Dialogue, while in Washington, Dr. Tanaka held talks with Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank, on the post-2015 Development Agenda and the response to Ebola. He also spoke with Chief Executive Officer of the French Development Agency Anne Paugam about the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the upcoming 2014 and 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP20 and 21) and strengthening cooperation on the ground.

With Arsenio Balisacan, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Director-General of the Philippines' National Economic and Development Authority, and Amando M. Tetangco Jr., Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines, he discussed assistance to the Bangsamoro, reconstruction assistance after Typhoon Yolanda and further strengthening cooperation to improve infrastructure, mainly in the Manila metropolitan area.

Furthermore, prior to arriving to Washington, DC, Dr. Tanaka visited Stanford University and UC-Berkeley, where he gave a lecture focused on the 60th anniversary of Japan's international cooperation. As part of his trip to Silicon Valley, he visited business incubators run by technology entrepreneurs. He also held talks with David Arnold, president of the Asia Foundation, to discuss the status of cooperation in Myanmar, Afghanistan and other countries.

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