Low-frequency high-impact events, such as the Canterbury earthquakes and flooding due to extreme weather or sea level rise, pose both local and national risks that can undermine our social and economic goals. And with population and economic growth the impact of natural hazards and extreme events is further magnified.
Recent natural hazard events have shown how vulnerable our communities and economies are in the event of a disaster, with the Kaikoura earthquake, for example, exposing the vulnerability of our transport corridors. New Zealand needs to develop new frameworks and policy tools to both respond meaningfully to such events and reduce the community and economic risks.
As owners of a significant amount of infrastructure, with a total asset value of over $120 billion, and as the agency responsible for mitigating hazards through land use planning, local government has a major role to play in achieving local, regional and national resilience. To ensure our infrastructure, economy and community are appropriately prepared we need to understand and be prepared to address potential risks - we need better emergency preparedness nationally and locally. The recent work that the Wellington region has undertaken with central government strengthening the resilience of its water supply is an example of this, however, given the substantial risk factors New Zealand faces we need a more strategic and comprehensive approach across the country.
LGNZ will work with councils and their elected members to ensure that their responsibilities under the new legislation are well understood and that they have access to guidelines and advice to fulfil those requirements.
LGNZ, with support from the Government, has prepared a business case for establishing a Local Government Risk Agency (LGRA). The establishment of the LGRA will increase capacity in local authorities for both understanding risk and developing a consistent standard of risk management.
LGNZ is committed to working with councils to increase awareness and understanding of the need to prepare for risk and resilience in relation to their infrastructure, land-use planning and leadership. We will also assist councils to increase community awareness about the threats posed by sea level rise and other climate change impacts. We will work to strengthen national frameworks and policies and will actively participate in the Government’s review of New Zealand’s civil defence and emergency management framework.
LGNZ’s focus for this policy priority is the establishment of the LGRA, the wide-spread implementation by councils of a risk based approach to decision-making and an effective collaboration between local and central government to strengthen the knowledge about risk throughout the public sectors.
Date updated: 23 May 2017