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Executive Summary

This Iraq Reconstruction Summit, convened by Equity International, Inc., took place on February 9-10, 2004 in Washington, D.C.  Leading figures in the Iraq reconstruction effort, whose views are captured here, participated in an active exchange of views and experiences with many other leading decision-makers.  They provided the latest reconstruction information, crucial to facilitating successful participation in the biggest rebuilding program since the Marshall Plan.  In addition, the conference provided invaluable networking opportunities with other top executives, forming partnerships to bid on reconstruction contracts. Conference Agenda

ORGANIZATION OF THIS REPORT

Part I lays the foundation for understanding the participants’ visions for the reconstruction and construction of Iraq—and beyond.

Part II provides their overview of the current situation in Iraq and the pressures facing members of the reconstruction community.

Part III describes the strategies, standards and practices, and expectations of successful members of the reconstruction community. 

Part IV discusses the role that culture and the rich Iraq history play in the reconstruction and construction efforts.

Part V discusses the legacy that the members of the reconstruction community should strive to build in Iraq.

Part VI discusses the role and value of reconstruction conferences.

Part I:  Understanding the participants’ visions for the reconstruction and construction of Iraq.  Though summit participants had widely varying points of view regarding the rebuilding of Iraq, a number of themes, summarized in their own words below, were consistent throughout their presentations and the follow-on interviews.

    The primary theme was a desire for Iraq to return to its historic role as a leading member of the world community.  There was a recognition, however, that the 20th century, especially under the Saddam regime, had not been kind to the Iraqi people, and that they will need substantial help from the world community to develop the economic growth, culture of liberal democracy, and civil society necessary for them to achieve their individual and social potentials.

    Also consistent was the view that the Iraqis were ultimately responsible for rebuilding their own society—to determine their own destiny.  This will require developing individual Iraqi capacities, fully engaging Iraqi individuals and firms in the rebuilding process, developing Iraqi youth to give them a sense of hope for the future, and respecting the culture, history, and environment of Iraq.   A number of participants stressed the role of other countries in the region, especially Jordan.

    Fundamental to achieving a stable Iraq is developing the standards, procedures, and expectations of good public governance and the essential market-oriented legal framework and reliable dispute resolution processes that allow businesses to compete fairly on the quality, prices, and delivery of their goods and services.  Business and civil society must be part of the solutions to community problems. Other essential elements of their visions of a free, stable Iraq were technological improvement, corporate mentoring, education at all levels, and active nongovernmental organizations.

    Finally, they offer a number of specific performance measures by which success in pursuing and achieving their vision could be monitored, tracked, and reported.

Part II:  Overview of the current situation in Iraq and the pressures facing members of the reconstruction community.  In the view of some of the participants, the reconstruction and construction of Iraq is a moral imperative—an international effort—which regional and transnational companies should embrace. 

    The Iraqi situation itself represents a complicated political, economic, and socio-cultural situation, which nonetheless offers great potential to the Iraqis and regional and transnational companies as well.  Complicating the situation dramatically is the transition of sovereignty to the Iraqi people on 1 July 2004. 

    Iraq has a basic market-oriented legal framework, and it is an open question whether the legal framework that currently prevails will continue following the transfer of governance to the Iraqis on 1 July 2004. 

    The economic situation is characterized by great opportunity, and an urgent need for Iraqi jobs.  A critical need is to expand the reconstruction community to enable Iraqi companies to participate as fully as possible in rebuilding Iraq.  This requires a more accessible procurement process and the development of Iraqi management systems and capacities so that Iraqi companies can fully participate in the reconstruction effort.  A particular concern is developing opportunity for Iraqi youth.

    Businesses need to be aware of the culture of Iraq, including its history, cultural artifacts, social systems, and environment.  There is an important, developing role for the nongovernmental organization.  A fundamental requirement is to develop the essential trust and social capital that allows a country to be stable, free market, and an attractive place for international investment.

    Security is a fundamental concern, but security differs widely from location to location.  Some areas are relatively secure and offer many opportunities.

    Major hurdles include expanding the accessibility of the Coalition Provisional Authority to Iraqis; the potential for waste, fraud, and abuse; and the uncertainty of the transition ahead.

Part III:  Strategies and practices of successful members of the reconstruction community.  Many participants argued that the reconstruction community needs to embrace a strategy of rebuilding Iraq from below the ground up.  This means being attendant to the culture, and history of the Iraqi people and the environment.  It also means building their capacity to reenter the global community and long-term relationships.

    Security remains a concern, but to be successful, a business must actually go to Iraq.  Companies need to be prepared, patient, prudent, and present.  An essential element of any strategy is to know the Iraq culture, listen to Iraqis, and have an Iraqi partner

    Though much of the attention in the reconstruction community is on Coalition Provisional Authority contracts and the prime contractors, a number of the participants urge firms to consider a shift to private enterprise to meet Iraqi needs.  They also suggest developing a consortium of firms to bid on contracts and perform work.

    Finally, developing the nongovernmental sector is an important consideration.  Firms need to be aware of Jordanian involvement.  And, participants relay a number of success stories.

Part IV:  The role that culture and the rich Iraq history play in the reconstruction and construction efforts.  Strategies for members of the reconstruction community require a cultural element.  Participants point out that the intellectual and cultural considerations of Iraqi life have not received the attention of physical infrastructure.  These cannot be ignored for the long-term health of the Iraqi people—and world civilization.

    An immediate concern is cultural preservation: that irreplaceable artifacts of Iraqi history and, indeed, world civilization not be disturbed, damaged, or removed lest their historical significance be lost.  Participants noted a few necessary cultural projects underway for the reconstruction community to consider and learn from.

Part V:  The legacy that the members of the reconstruction community should strive to leave in Iraq.  Participants recommend that members of the reconstruction community ask themselves this question, what should be our legacy in Iraq?  In answer, they provide a number of answers.  Some answers we have discussed earlier: (1) fostering a culture of democracy, (2) developing the capacity of individual Iraqis and companies, and (3) protecting and preserving Iraqi culture and historical artifacts.

    Other answers offered by participants, which are described in this part, include: (1) fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and (2) fostering a sense of corporate service to the community.

Part VI:  The role and value of reconstruction conferences.  Iraq reconstruction conferences offer opportunities for networking and knowledge-sharing.  They are particularly valuable for the Coalition Provisional Authority and Program Management Office to pass on information about contracting opportunities and procedures—and receive feedback.

    Most conferences are held in the United States or in the region, such as Kuwait and Jordan.  Few Iraqis are able to participate, and many Iraqis, as a result, are unaware of the efforts being made to rebuild Iraq.  Iraqi-Americans are able to serve as a bridge between Iraqis and the reconstruction community.

    Participants recommend that reconstruction conferences be held in Iraq, notwithstanding security concerns.  It is also important, in their view, that reconstruction conference proceedings be widely publicized in Iraq, so that Iraqi people know what efforts are being made on their behalf.

Conclusion and Next Steps

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