National Disaster Resilience Strategy Summary Version

The following provides a summary of the National Disaster Resilience Strategy, a 10 year strategy made under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act. The summary provides an introduction to the intent and purpose of the Strategy, an overview of the key points, and tailored recommendations for different groups in society.

Purpose of the National Disaster Resilience Strategy

The purpose of the Strategy is to outline the vision and long-term goals for civil defence emergency management (CDEM) in New Zealand. CDEM in New Zealand is governed by the CDEM Act, which:

  • promotes the sustainable management of hazards in a way that contributes to safety and wellbeing;
  • encourages wide participation, including communities, in the process to manage risk;
  • provides for planning and preparation for emergencies, and for response and recovery;
  • requires local authorities to coordinate reduction, readiness, response and recovery activities through regional groups;
  • provides a basis for the integration of national and local planning and activity; and
  • encourages coordination across a wide range of agencies, recognising that emergencies are multi-agency events affecting all parts of society.

We interpret these as an overarching intent for a resilient New Zealand.

This is important because New Zealanders are, and will continue to be, at risk from a broad range of hazards.

Many of the risks we face both now and in the future can be readily identified. However, we also need to recognise that the future is uncertain: major, unexpected, and hard-to-predict events are inevitable. Moreover, the further we probe into the future, the deeper the level of uncertainty we encounter. Within this uncertain future environment, resilience is an important requirement for success. Resilience is our – or a system’s – ability to anticipate, minimise, absorb, respond to, adapt to, and recover from disruptive events. In essence, it’s about developing a wide zone of tolerance – the ability to remain effective across a range of future conditions.

Given our risk landscape, and the uncertainty of the wider domestic and global environment, it is important for us to take deliberate steps to improve our resilience and protect the prosperity and wellbeing of New Zealand – of individuals, communities, businesses, our society, the economy, and the nation as a whole.

We can do much to reduce our risks, through both a risk management approach, and to build our broader societal resilience. We can also ensure we have effective processes in place for responding to and recovering from emergencies and other types of disruption when they do happen.

The Strategy sets out what we as New Zealanders expect in respect of a resilient New Zealand, and what we want to achieve over the next 10 years. It explicitly links resilience to the protection and growth of living standards for all New Zealanders, and promotes a wide, whole-of-society, participatory and inclusive approach.

The Strategy provides the vision and strategic direction, including outlining priorities and objectives for increasing New Zealand’s resilience to disasters.  It is intended to provide the common agenda for resilience that individual organisations, agencies, and groups can align with for collective impact. The detail of how those objectives are to be achieved sits in an accompanying work plan, alongside other related key documents including the National CDEM Plan and Guide, the National Security Handbook, CDEM Group Plans, and a range of other supporting policies and plans.

The Strategy

The vision of the Strategy is that:

New Zealand is a disaster resilient nation that acts proactively to manage risks and build resilience in a way that contributes to the wellbeing and prosperity of all New Zealanders

In order to achieve this vision, the Strategy has an overarching goal:

To strengthen the resilience of the nation by managing risks, being ready to respond to and recover from emergencies, and by empowering and supporting individuals, organisations, and communities to act for themselves and others, for the safety and wellbeing of all.

We will do this through three main priorities:

  1. Managing risks
  2. Effective response to and recovery from emergencies
  3. Enabling, empowering, and supporting community resilience

Each priority has six objectives.

Objectives of the Strategy

The six objectives designed to progress the priority of managing risks are at all levels:

  1. Identify and understand risk scenarios (including the components of hazard, exposure, vulnerability, and capacity), and use this knowledge to inform decision-making
  2. Put in place organisational structures and identify necessary processes – including being informed by community perspectives – to understand and act on reducing risks
  3. Build risk awareness, risk literacy, and risk management capability, including the ability to assess risk
  4. Address gaps in risk reduction policy (particularly in the light of climate change adaptation)
  5. Ensure development and investment practices, particularly in the built and natural environments, are risk-aware, taking care not to create any unnecessary or unacceptable new risk

The six objectives designed to progress the priority of effective response to and recovery from emergencies are:

  1. Implement measures to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of people is at the heart of the emergency management system
  2. Build the relationship between emergency management organisations and iwi/groups representing Māori, to ensure greater recognition, understanding, and integration of iwi/Māori perspectives and tikanga in emergency management
  3. Strengthen the national leadership of the emergency management system to provide clearer direction and more consistent response to and recovery from emergencies
  4. Ensure it is clear who is responsible for what, nationally, regionally, and locally, in response and recovery; enable and empower community-level response, and ensure it is connected into wider coordinated responses, when and where necessary
  5. Build the capability and capacity of the emergency management workforce to enable effective response and recovery
  6. Improve the information and intelligence system that supports decision-making in emergencies to enable informed, timely, and consistent decisions by stakeholders and the public

The six objectives designed to progress the priority of enabling, empowering, and supporting community resilience are, at all levels:

  1. Enable and empower individuals, households, organisations, and businesses to build their resilience, paying particular attention to those people and groups who may be disproportionately affected by disaster
  2. Cultivate an environment for social connectedness which promotes a culture of mutual help; embed a collective impact approach to building community resilience
  3. Take a whole of city/district/ region approach to resilience, including to embed strategic objectives for resilience in key plans and strategies
  4. Address the capacity and adequacy of critical infrastructure systems, and upgrade them as practicable, according to risks identified
  5. Embed a strategic, resilience approach to recovery planning that takes account of risks identified, recognises long-term priorities and opportunities to build back better, and ensures the needs of the affected are at the centre of recovery processes
  6. Recognise the importance of culture to resilience, including to support the continuity of cultural places, institutions, and activities, and to enable to the participation of different cultures in resilience

All readers of the Strategy are encouraged to consider what the priorities and objectives mean for them, their family/whānau, business or organisation, community/hapū, and what they can do to contribute to their own resilience or the resilience of others. Some tailored recommended actions are provided below.