The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has joined forces with Te Kokiringa Taumata | The New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) in a new four-year partnership to encourage smarter land use decisions by local planners.
"EQC works hard to better understand and minimise the risk our natural hazards pose and by sharing that knowledge we hope better planning will lead to a safer New Zealand,” says EQC’s Chief Resilience and Research Officer Dr Jo Horrocks.
Dr Horrocks says that her team regularly sees examples of land being developed that is surrounded by or susceptible to natural hazards, simply because the planners are not aware of the risks.
“We are developing a Smarter Land Use Action Plan, which we are hoping to publish in early 2022. This partnership with NZPI, and many others is an exciting way to start supporting the delivery of this plan. We hope that together, we can raise the standard of land use planning in New Zealand by using research, data and influencing policy to improve planning outcomes.
NZPI Chief Executive David Curtis says he is excited about the opportunities the new partnership will create for his organisation.
“It will enable us to build on and expand the tools to support the empirical basis of practical planning through this partnership. Our members will greatly benefit from having access to some of the resources, research, and data that EQC has to share.”
Dr Horrocks explains that EQC has an extensive library of EQC-funded research, as well as good links to the broader science and research community. EQC also has a wealth of data generated through decades of claims information and assessment; meaning the organisation has good knowledge about where and how natural hazards occur, and how much they cost when they do. This information can be used to influence public policy for better approaches to hazard risk management, as well as raising public awareness about hazards and risks.
"We hope that decision makers, planners and communities start using and acting on this information to make risk-based decisions, and adopt risk-reduction policies and behaviour that ultimately reduces the impacts on people and property if a natural hazard was to occur,” says Dr Horrocks.
EQC Champion for land use planning, Wendy Saunders, says that EQC and the NZPI share a fundamental vision that more informed planning will lead to a safer, more resilient New Zealand.
“As part of our mission to create greater community resilience to hazards, we will also collaborate with NZPI to present a united voice on legislation and plan reviews, to advocate for more risk-based planning outcomes."
The new partnership enables EQC and the Planning Institute to provide professional development and training to NZPI members, as well as courses for researchers.
“As well as working with the NZPI members, the partnership means that we can support increased use of hazard and risk information by future planners in their university courses,” says Dr Horrocks.
Mr Curtis says that the first step of the partnership will deliver a series of professional development courses for researchers, planners, and university students.
“One of these targeted courses will help scientists understand how their research and work informs and influences decision making at a policy level.”
Dr Horrocks says this course is designed to ensure researchers are confident in their work when it comes to presenting and speaking at forums like the Environment Court.
“This new partnership brings the research and planning worlds together, to contribute to planning outcomes that considers our natural hazard risks. It’s an exciting initiative which will help our communities become more resilient and sustainable in the future,” says Dr Horrocks.