Are we planning for sustainable disaster recovery? Evaluating recovery plans after the Wenchuan earthquake

Yan Song, Chaosu Li, Robert Olshansky, Yang Zhang, Yu Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines local recovery plans that were created in response to the Wenchuan earthquake and then suggests ways that planners can better apply the concept of sustainability to the recovery process. We utilize a plan evaluation protocol to analyze 16 recovery plans in counties and towns that were severely affected by the earthquake. We also conducted semi-structured interviews with public officials and planners, with the qualitative data gleaned from these interviews being used to supplement the plan quality assessment. The results reveal that local recovery plans do not appear to have incorporated sufficiently the concepts of sustainability. We conclude the paper with the following recommendations: emphasizing sustainability as a policy priority during vision and goal development; developing solid databases and planning techniques; designing a diversified set of regulatory- and incentive-based policy tools suitable for local governments; enhancing social and institutional learning; and further integrating multi-level and interagency governmental units.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2192-2216
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2 2017


  • Wenchuan earthquake
  • disaster recovery
  • plan evaluation
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Are we planning for sustainable disaster recovery? Evaluating recovery plans after the Wenchuan earthquake'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this