The mission of the Long-Term Recovery Partnership Project (LPP) of the Institute for Sustainable Development is to facilitate the inclusion of private sector and civil society participation in the national disaster recovery framework. The LPP will (a) enhance alignment, coordination, and collaboration with public sector disaster recovery implementers, (b) provide supplemental technical assistance and access to specialized subject matter expertise to communities, and (c) support the delivery of services to under-served individuals and communities.


The 2017 disasters were unprecedented in their scope and impact. As of this writing, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, along with the California wildfires, have affected 25 million people and placed 5 million in the Individual Assistance Program, which is more than hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma and Sandy combined and a tenfold increase on 2016.

Given the extent of the damage, recovery will encompass every aspect of life for communities across a vast geographic area and cross-sector coordination will be critical. In fact, as FEMA’s National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) states, “it is critical that recovery officials recognize the importance of partnership and create coordination opportunities with private sector leaders during pre-disaster planning processes. Post-disaster, recovery officials need to maintain communication with the private sector about the status of operations and supply chains as well as restoration challenges and timelines.” The NDRF goes on to state that ­

“Effective partnerships rely on an inclusive recovery management and coordination process that engages all elements of the whole community. Those who lead recovery efforts must communicate and support engagement with the whole community by developing shared goals and aligning capabilities to reduce the risk of any jurisdiction being overwhelmed in times of crisis. Layered, mutually supporting capabilities of individuals, communities, the private sector, NGOs, tribal nations, and governments at all levels allow for coordinated management and planning. Partnerships and collaboration across groups, sectors, and governments can assist affected communities in evaluating current and anticipated recovery needs and understanding how to access all available resources beyond traditional recovery programs.”

Furthermore, the NDRF explicitly calls for “engaged partnerships and inclusiveness”[1] as one of its “Guiding Principles.” Inclusiveness in this context refers to the engagement of community members in recovery planning and activity with a particular focus on enabling the participation of demographic segments that may have been traditionally marginalized or disadvantaged.

The private sector and civil society, including large multinational corporations, as well as small businesses - restaurants, bakeries, day care operators, and car dealerships -  will play a critical role in the long-term recovery of the region, creating jobs and driving economic growth.

The challenge, however, is that while recovery officials understand the need to engage and coordinate with both the private sector and with civil society, there is no established mechanism or coordinating body for Long-Term Recovery (LTR) and critical recovery functions that affect the business community. It is vital to set up a coordination hub to facilitate public-private-civil society coordination at a systems level, and to help resolve individual recovery challenges on a case-by-case basis.


The Institute for Sustainable Development, along with its state and local partners in the different geographic theaters, proposes to fill the urgent need to create a partnership coordinating body, and work with communities and key stakeholders to:

  • Develop a long-term recovery planning strategy for accomplishing community goals;
  • Facilitate the inclusion of private sector, nonprofit, and faith-based voices, including small enterprise as well as large multinational corporations, in designing the strategy and mechanism for long-term recovery and restoration of civic functions;
  • Develop specific project-related multi-sector partnerships that bring recovery plans to life and provide tangible solutions for long term community needs;
  • Facilitate a process to build trust and develop cross-sector relationships;
  • Enhance communication, coordination, and collaboration at local and regional levels;
  • Troubleshoot and reconcile particular cases within selected pilot sites to test and refine the methodology within an Agile Development framework to keep the process moving forward and to test and validate outcomes;
  • Create mechanisms for skills-based volunteers to provide vital services necessary for the long-term recovery effort
  • Identify and Prioritize Risk Reduction Actions
  • Integrate risk reduction into rebuilding and new infrastructure construction
  • Identify opportunities to integrate natural systems into infrastructure development, land use planning, community growth, open space planning and transportation to (a) reduce costs and (b) improve performance
  • Strengthen the impacted areas for the long-term
  • Catalyze and mobilize the commitment of vital funding, human capital, and other capacity building functions from the private and civil sectors
  • Develop a research and knowledge base that provides public, private, and civil sector leaders with:
    • “Businesses cases” that define the benefits vs. costs of investing in long-term recovery approaches
    • Good practices that can be shared across a variety of communities
    • The opportunity to share and exchange knowledge and information across networks
    • A dissemination capability that promotes lessons learned and highlights the success of leaders.

Our approach is based on the “Design Better, then Build” theory of disaster recovery.  Disaster costs have doubled every decade since 1980, and as a result, current approaches need to be revisited. The “Design Better” approach overlays the latest thinking about future conditions on pre-disaster community patterns. In the absence of addressing the underlying threats and vulnerabilities, simply replacing and strengthening existing infrastructure is too costly. “Design better” incorporates understanding of natural environment threats and vulnerabilities and assets, while simultaneously taking into account evolving economic needs and industry dynamics. It incorporates the latest technology, materials, and innovations, and it seeks to embed future resilience and “future proofing.” In terms of proof of concept, both Japan and Germany implemented this approach post-World War II, and have reaped substantial economic competitiveness, environmental security, and quality of life benefits ever since.


  • Through the support and engagement of multi-sector partners, key metrics of long-term recovery are identified and show progress across affected communities;

  • Increased capacity and the capability for long-term recovery planning at the community level;
  • Business losses and needs are properly documented and considered in the long-term recovery plan;
  • Business assets are identified for overall community recovery and included in the long-term recovery plan;
  • Comprehensive long-term recovery plans are developed for individual communities or regions that clearly addresses rebuilding and strengthening the community, its infrastructure, and its economy
  • Inclusion of risk reduction and adaptation measures in the long-term recovery plan to reduce the impacts of future floods and decrease the disruption to the community and businesses in the future. 


  • California Resiliency Alliance brings business and government together in a public-private partnership to strengthen our capacity to prevent, protect, respond and recover from natural disasters, pandemic flu or terrorism.  In previous disasters, business-government collaboration has been chaotic – with little or no advanced planning or practice. We mobilize California's businesses in advance to improve community resiliency
  • The National Incident Management Systems and Advanced Technologies (NIMSAT) Institute NIMSAT is a university-based research center situated at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana, and focuses on developing, testing, and transitioning technologies and operational concepts to improve regional and community resilience and disaster preparedness (www.nimsat.org). NIMSAT also manages the Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (www.labeoc.org) on behalf of the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
  • The Texas Association of Business (TAB) The Texas Association of Business (TAB) represents over 4300 businesses and local chambers of commerce and provides unparalleled leadership, advocacy, convening, and project management support on behalf of its members.

Useful Links

  • Center For Disaster Philanthropy - http://disasterphilanthropy.org/ 
  • International Economic Development Council - http://RecoverYourEconomy.org 
  • National Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster - https://www.nvoad.org
  • USCC - https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/topics/disaster-response
  • Texas Association of Business (TAB) - http://www.txbiz.org/
  • California Resiliency Alliance - http://caresiliency.org/
  • NIMSAT Institute - https://nimsat.louisiana.edu/




[1] National Disaster Recovery Framework, 2nd edition, June 2016, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, page 1.