Local Government New Zealand is urging an incoming government to commit to a collaborative approach and urgent action to manage the risks posed to New Zealand communities from extreme weather and seismic events.
Recent events like the Kaikoura earthquake and the Edgecumbe flooding further put the spotlight on the need to improve readiness for hazardous events to reduce community and economic risks.
In its election manifesto to be released at this weekend’s LGNZ Conference in Auckland, LGNZ says given the substantial risks New Zealand faces, including from climate change, a more strategic and comprehensive approach across the country is needed.
The manifesto also reiterates the need for a Government supported Local Government Risk Agency to increase local capacity and develop a consistent standard of risk management.
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says it is vital that New Zealand is prepared to address potential risks, which means better emergency preparedness nationally and locally.
“Natural hazards and climate change impacts especially pose an unprecedented threat to our natural and built environment,” Mr Yule says.
“Much of the responsibility for adaptation falls to local government, but councils can’t address the issues of sea level rise and increasing frequency of storm events by themselves – a national conversation is required.
“As the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright has commented recently, on climate change we need to be doing more and we need to be doing it faster.”
Mr Yule says the proposed Risk Agency would introduce a consistent information base, innovative solutions and agreement on funding options is needed. There also needs to be collaboration between central and local government, and between city district and regional councils on climate change action.
“If we are to ensure New Zealand has the best possible system for understanding and responding to extreme event establishing the Agency is urgent,” Mr Yule says.
“LGNZ is asking political parties and the incoming government to make the establishment of a Local Government Risk Agency a priority. Together central and local government should lead a national discussion on the importance of understanding risk and building resilience.”
The manifesto, LGNZ’s vision for a prosperous and vibrant New Zealand, will be launched at the 2017 LGNZ Conference in Auckland this weekend.