Chengdu became the first Chinese city to be named "Role Model for Resilient Development" by the United Nations.
The award was presented on May 11, 2011, during the 3rd UN Conference Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction at the Geneva International Conference Center in Switzerland. The lobby of the conference center displayed dramatic pictures of the disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction work of Chengdu following the deadly 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Words and pictures captured the incredible challenge of a region where 1 million people were left homeless by an earthquake that caused an estimated economic loss of 124.7 billion yuan. Chengdu immediately began responding, leading rescue and renovation work involving 14 million people.
During the three years spent coordinating urban and rural renovation and new development work, the city experienced no crop failures, epidemics or social unrest. In fact, Chengdu won praise for its planned "three-year reconstruction completed within two years." Indeed, Chengdu turned crisis into new opportunities, exceeding efforts to restore the city's economy by embarking on an ambitious plan to grow the economy in new directions and build a modern garden city that would attract new business and tourism. After three years, Chengdu's status among 15 capital cities in China was not lowered, but raised.
The more than 3,000 representatives at the May meeting in Geneva hailed Chengdu as a model of "persistence and calm."
In 2010, the total output value in Chengdu reached 555.13 billion yuan, a 15 percent year-on-year increase. The city was ranked No 5 among the top 15 capital cities. Local public finance budgets reached 52.69 billion yuan, a 36 percent increase. Chengdu in 2010 also ranked No 1 among cities in midwestern and western areas in terms of actual use of foreign capital and total export/import volumes.
The number of Fortune 500 companies establishing operations in Chengdu now totals 189, including Volkswagen, Texas Instrument, Dell, Lenovo, Foxxconn, Compal and Wistron. In 2010, as disclosed by the famous financial magazines Forbes in the U.S., Chengdu ranked first among the fastest-growing cities in the world for the next decade.
Chengdu officials told their story to a UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) meeting during arranged a Forum for Mayors and Councilors session.
Chengdu showed an indomitable spirit and achieved outstanding results, the UNISDR session was told..
A Role Model for Recovery
For the past several years, more natural disasters have caused a heavier loss of life and property. Thus, the 3rd UN Conference Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction has become a showcase for models of prevention and recovery.
On May 28, 2009, to address future prevention and disaster reduction scenarios, Chengdu's municipal government established the Municipal Disaster Relief Commission at the city's Municipal Civil Affairs Bureau.
Chengdu invested 160 million yuan to establish 35 emergency shelters, ranging in size from 2,000 square meters to 200,000 square meters. These shelters also will provide emergency medical aid, emergency material reserves, emergency toilets, emergency power and water supplies, firefighting equipment, and emergency garbage and sewage treatment. An estimated 1.1 million people can be accommodated by these shelters.
In June 2009, plans called for an eventual 1,000 emergency shelters downtown. Twenty-five designated escape routes also would be made available for prompt evacuations of local residents.
The city also will distribute emergency equipment ranging from buzzers to crowbars and fire extinguishers to 462 communities in major urban areas of Chengdu. These improvements are in addition to earlier achievements to improve earthquake-resistance of infrastructure projects to exceed grade 7 for most buildings and exceed grade 8 for schools and hospitals.
Chengdu spent 241 million yuan to build a central disaster relief material reserves base in 2010 to be fully prepared for emergency transfer of as many as 866,000 people and to provide disaster relief materials to as many as 216,500 people.
In December 2010, the Chengdu Militia Rescue Team demonstrated their training and skills at professional standing emergency rescue operations in the city. Established in September 2009, the rescue team is the first emergency rescue team in China to be trained for multiple duties ranging from urban aerial defense, firefighting and floods to earthquakes and peace-keeping responsibilities.
In July, 2010, the Chengdu Public Security Fire Detachment established a comprehensive rescue team at Dujiangyan Dam Base for disaster relief. This rescue team is equipped with a turbine spray fire engine, and tanks and petrochemical engineering simulated training devices, to serve Chengdu, Sichuan province and the country.
In August, 2009, Chengdu began construction on a rapid-response seismic intensity reporting platform, which will provide 67 sub-platforms covering Chengdu. The goal is to accurately position seismic intensity within three minutes.
In March, 2011, the Chengdu Information System for Geological Environments was examined and approved. This system integrates a comprehensive data platform, geologic hazard alarms and 3D geological environment data to assist in geological hazard prevention efforts in Chengdu.
In August, 2010, Chengdu suffered from extremely heavy rainfall, which caused the serious mountain torrents and mudslides. However, Chengdu's new buildings stood firm and new roads carried peopled to safety. There were no casualties.
Sharing Chengdu's Experience
Since 2009, May 12 is marked as "Disaster Prevention and Reduction Day" in China. In Chengdu, education on disaster prevention and reduction, as well as first-aid skills, have been added to elementary school curriculums. Educational activities also have been featured on radio, TV, newspaper and Internet platforms.
Popular Science Propaganda Month, International Disaster Reduction Day and Legal Propaganda Day have become popular ways to practice emergency drills in schools and neighborhoods. The theme of all such activities is: "Everyone is responsible for seismic protection and disaster reduction. Volunteers in Chengdu are playing important roles to promote public participation in disaster reduction activities.
In April 2009, the Communist Youth League Chengdu Municipal Party Committee and the Office of Municipal Volunteers recruited 512 emergency volunteers through the media for firefighting, rescue teams, water rescue, health and epidemic prevention education, seismic protection, psychological assistance and other post-disaster responsibilities.
"Calamities are the outcome of nature and human beings, and no country can avoid them. But if people can rescue themselves in the face of natural hazards, threats can be reduced," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
The people of Chengdu rescued themselves, and built a model for successful post-disaster reconstruction that is now being shared with other people around the world.