International Environmental Technology Centre 



International Experts Mission to the Tohoku RegionIn collaboration with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), UNEP's International Environmental Technology Centre and Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch organized an international mission to the Japanese region of Tohoku to exchange experience on managing post-disaster debris. The mission visited Tohuku from 27 February to 2 March 2012.

A year after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Eastern Japan, killing thousands and destroying cities and villages along the coast of the country's Tohoku region, the UNEP team of international experts visited the affected area to meet with officials, visit waste management and debris recycling facilities, and share information and experiences with people involved in the clean-up effort.

Given the unprecedented volume of debris from the Great East Japan earthquake, and the efficiency with which the Japanese authorities and communities have responded, UNEP intends to share the methods and lessons learned to help other countries be better prepared to handle debris generated by future natural disasters.

Composed of 9 experts from 8 countries with experience in disaster debris management from various disasters, the mission visited affected municipalities and waste debris management facilities in Sendai, Miyako, Ofunato, Ishinomaki, Soma and Tokyo.

The objectives were

  • To gather information and maps.

  • To visit city officials and discuss their challenges and progress.

  • To visit the waste management facilities processing the tsunami debris.

  • To exchange experiences.

Key observations include:

  • The scale of the challenge is unprecendented and this will be the most expensive disaster debris management project ever.

  • The central government has given clear technical directions and provided substantial technical support.

  • Local municipalities are implementing them, with the support of the prefectures, in a rapid and systematic manner.

  • The speed at which waste management facilities are being set up is impressive.

To learn more about the mission and its results, please consult, below

  • The movie filmed during the mission

  • The final presentation by the mission's experts

  • The photo gallery

The final mission report is now available. (PDF, 2.7MB)