International Conference on Building Resilience 2011
Keynote speakers

Dakshitha Thalgodapitiya, CEO Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka

Since 2002, Dakshitha Thalgodapitiya has been Chief Executive Officer & Secretary General of the Chamber of Construction Industry Sri Lanka, an apex body that represents architects, engineers and contractors, building material manufacturers, skilled workers, real estate developers, insurance companies, development banks, state agencies and others connected to the Construction Industry. Its aim is to influence government policies and instruct the government for the upliftment of the industry in specific, and the country in general. Mr Thalgodapitiya continues to be a vocal advocate for the need to deploy regional contractors on infrastructure development and construction related projects in the North and East of Sri Lanka. In support of this, the Chamber has been undertaking a Construction Craftsman Training Programme in Batticaloa with the assistance of the Government of Germany and in collaboration with GTZ

In 2005, Mr Thalgodapitiya was appointed as Director to the Colombo Stock Exchange by the Minister of Finance & Planning. Mr Thalgodapitiya is also a Member of the Board of Governors of the Sri Lanka National Arbitration Centre and a Technical Advisor to the International Labour Organization.

Challenges of post disaster reconstruction

Ensuring sustainability of interventions undertaken for post disaster reconstruction is a crucial challenge confronting countries like Sri Lanka.  The process of Reconstruction can serve to reinforce and sometimes even increase the vulnerability of communities. Methodology, tools, techniques and delivery modes need to be addressed from a holistic and dynamic perspective and be an integrated process.

Corruption in the delivery of aid undermines the very spirit of humanitarian action. Aid can as a result of corruption be diverted away from the affected communities or distributed inequitably.

As the period of post disaster reconstruction can be particularly long, it is more prone to corruption due to a tendency to by-pass procurement procedures to ensure rapid rebuilding.

Good governance in reconstruction is more than preventing corruption.  Accountability for the effectiveness of the reconstruction should be the overriding goal.  Aide providers, governments and implementing agencies should jointly establish an environment for effective risk assessment to ensure proper financial management of reconstruction activities and capacity building of implementation.  A holistic early warning system for corruption in reconstruction is necessary for achievement of the wider aim of social justice.  Vulnerability to disasters and corruption in reconstruction should be viewed as production processes existing before as well as after disasters.


Dr Ananda Mallawatantri, Team Leader, Environment, Energy and Disaster Risk Management, UNDP Sri Lanka

Ananda Mallawatantri counts over 30 years of professional experience in international development, project management, public sector, consulting, industrial production, environment and ecology related research and university teaching.

For the last five years he is attached to UNDP Sri Lanka as the Team Leader for Environment, Energy, and Disaster Management programmes. Prior to UNDP, Mr. Mallawatantri worked at the US Embassy and USAID Colombo as a project director and a senior advisor in environment and energy, for seven years. He conducted short-term consultancies for the International Water Management Institute and private sector.  Mr. Mallawatantri worked in the Ministries of Public Administration and Plan Implementation as a member of Sri Lanka Administrative Service.

He holds a BS degree in Chemistry from the University of Colombo, MS Degree in Environment Science and Ph.D. in Soil Physics from Washington State University, USA. He also holds a Diploma in Business Administration from the University of Colombo. He was a Fulbright Student to USA between 1988 and 1992. His post‐doctoral work at the University of Minnesota led to the development of Agro‐Ecological Region based land use management practices for the State of Minnesota.

During the last decade his work in Sri Lanka contributed towards the improvements in air quality, water management, municipal waste processing, use of renewable energy, natural resources management and disaster risk management. He guides and teaches graduate students in his spare time.

Tools to facilitate disaster resilient construction

The presentation will focus on two key approaches undertaken in Sri Lanka to facilitate the disaster resilient construction, namely, the Integrated Strategic Environment Assessment for post-conflict Northern Province and National Hazard Profiles for coastal hazards, cyclones, droughts, floods and landslides. Key elements of the two approaches such as active participation of multiple stakeholders, generation of new information, data sharing, prioritization of land use though conflict resolution etc. will be highlighted. In addition a number of steps taken in Sri Lanka to develop building codes and designs to meet disaster risks and potential implications on the disaster potential due to climate change will be presented.


Professor Peter Barrett, Professor of Management in Property and Construction, University of Salford, UK

Professor Barrett is Professor of Management in Property and Construction at Salford University in the UK, where he is a past Director of Salford’s top rated, 6* Research Institute for the Built and Human Environment ( and was Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Postgraduate Studies from 2001-08 with responsibility for all research across the University. He is currently Chairman of the £5M EPSRC funded, Salford Centre for Research and Innovation in the built environment ( Peter is immediate past President of the UN-established International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction (CIB - involving 2000 experts in 60 countries. His presidency culminated in the CIB World Congress in the UK in May 2010 on the theme of “Building a Better World” ( Around 650 delegates presented papers and addressed challenges from the UN, OECD, WHO and EC.

Peter has produced over one hundred and seventy single volume publications, refereed papers and reports, and has made over one hundred and ten presentations in around sixteen countries. Professor Barrett has undertaken a wide range of research. He is currently focusing on the theme of Revaluing Construction ( with a particular interest in the links between Senses, Brain and Spaces.  This has led to practical work in the area of primary school design and achieving optimal learning spaces. In addition, and on a completely different tack, he runs a national UK network on Managing Academic Workloads ( For more details of Peter’s work see

Building and sustaining institutional resilience

In advance of the conference Professor Barrett has been working with the organisers to carry out a Delphi questionnaire study amongst the participants.  The results of this will be fed back at the conference covering issues such as the delegates’ perceptions of trends in the incidence and impacts of disasters and the reasons behind these trends.  In addition, views on the ISDR “Making Cities Resilient” campaign will be reported, including assessments of its scope and utility, and the state of play across its “Ten Essentials” for action.  It is anticipated that this process will help those at the conference to develop a strong consensus on priority actions to address how to achieve practical resilience in the face of disasters.  In so doing it is hoped that the many individual and valuable perspectives and efforts of the delegates will more strongly synergise.


Professor John Fein, Professor of Sustainability in the Innovation Leadership programme of RMIT University, Australia

Professor John Fein holds the chair of Sustainability at RMIT University, the first such professorship in Australia. He is an experienced researcher and research leader with over AUD7m in national and international grants and over 100 academic publications since 1996. Current research projects include studies of “Effective Communication and Community Mobilization in Bushfire-Vulnerable Regions” and “Sustainable Housing Systems for Remote Indigenous Communities”. He has consulted widely for the World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO, OECD and UNEP in most parts of SE Asia and Southern Africa. With a PhD in Geography and Education, he is a specialist in the use of multimedia in vocational and university education and is the developer of the award-winning multimedia program Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future (

Breaching the urban contract: dividing walls in/to the resilient city

 Cities and walls have a long, intertwined history. Physical barricades have historically provided a functional separation between civilized and uncivilized domains for resident communities. Walls ensured collective security: this was a fundamental part of the early urban contract. The city was a social fortress filled with allies in league against a common enemy: those outside the wall. In the past fifty years of increasing interethnic violence, the ’enemy’ has been inside the city and the dividing walls, or some other forms of separation, have been built within the city. This represents an erosion of the urban contract and the ascendancy of fear, insecurity and vulnerability over resilience. This paper draws on research in five divided cities (Mostar, Beirut, Jerusalem, Belfast and Nicosia) to explore the descending spiral into conflict that results when the contract between vulnerable ethnic communities and city managers is broken. The paper concludes with an examination of urban design strategies through which resilience has been achieved.


Professor Terrance Fernando, Director of the Future Workspaces Research Centre, University of Salford, UK

Professor Terrence Fernando is the Director of the ThinkLab at the University of Salford, UK. The ThinkLab combines both physical and virtual spaces to provide innovative collaborative workspaces for innovation. Professor Fernando has a broad background in conducting multi-disciplinary research programmes involving a large number of research teams in areas such as distributed virtual engineering, virtual building construction, driving simulations, virtual prototyping, urban simulation, and maintenance simulation.  As a part of the EU funded Future Workspaces roadmap project and the MOSAIC project, Prof. Fernando brought together over 100 companies and research centres from areas such as aerospace, automotive, building construction, multi-modal interfaces, system architecture, networking, human factors  to define a 10 year European vision for future collaborative engineering workspaces and mobile workspaces. This work resulted in receiving 12MEuro from EU for a project called CoSpaces IP to implement an innovative collaborative technology platform for aerospace, automotive and construction industries, involving 22 European partners. He was also a core member of the INTUITION Network of Excellence project (5MEuro) involving over 50 research centres across Europe to develop coordinated research activities on VR. As a part of the EPSRC funded Vivacity project, he led the development of a collaborative urban planning environment in collaboration with the Black Country Consortium and Ordnance Survey. This work is now being further developed to support regeneration projects within Salford, involving a range of stakeholders including the City Council, Police, Primary Care Trusts and the Environment Agency.