I would also like to introduce our guest speakers for today and thank them for agreeing to participate in this session that is a bit of an experiment. As you know there is a seminar on recovery on Monday night that the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery has graciously allowed me to co-host. I was already planning a seminar for today should I be elected Mayor. The Minister, it transpired, was organising one too. Although Monday's agenda was different, accepting the invitation to co-host has sent a powerful message of unity – central and local government working together – something we haven't seen in the city for a long time.
Laurie Johnson is an urban planner specialising in disaster recovery and she has worked with many communities around the world including New Orleans. Her book Clear as Mud highlighted for me the incredible wealth of knowledge that exists in places that have experienced disaster and have had to confront post-disaster planning challenges even greater than our own. This is Laurie's fifth visit to Christchurch since the February 2011 quake, which reinforces how willing people are to share their expertise. Councillors from the previous Council also met with her when they went to San Francisco on a study trip after the earthquake. She has been in Christchurch since Tuesday, sharing her knowledge with staff from the Council and also from CERA.
Margaret Jefferies and Liz Briggs from Project Lyttelton are here to share their community's experiences leading up to and beyond the earthquakes. I asked them to come because I wanted to showcase the wisdom that exists within our communities. Project Lyttelton is described as the soul of a sustainable community: • a non-profit grassroots organisation committed to building sustainable, connected community. • harnessing the power of community and fostering hope and inspiration to create a collective future. • A values-based approach which is inclusive and participative - recognising all people have intrinsic value. • supporting local food production, looking at ways to meet energy needs through innovative community-based solutions, minimising waste, creating opportunities for people to come together to play, share information and skills; The model is attracting interest both nationally and internationally and we are lucky to have them here today. Resilience I didn't fully appreciate the true meaning of resilience until last year when I was invited to join the UNISDR's Advisory Group of Parliamentarians on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
I learned that it's not the disaster that is natural – New Zealand's volcanic activity last year wasn't a disaster. It's a natural hazard as is an earthquake. The disaster occurs when there is an impact of people. I also learned that DRR was part of something much bigger – everything from sustainable land use, food and water security and climate change adaptation all the way through to community development at the grassroots. I learned it involves every part of society, every part of government and every part of the professional and private sector. It requires a long term view. The less prepared or resilient the people and their environment are for such an event, the greater the disaster risk - hazard multiplied by exposure, divided by resilience or coping capacity equals disaster risk. That is why building resilience has become so central to my thinking about where we need to focus our attention locally and internationally. So what does resilience mean?
The ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, or more successfully adapt to actual or potential adverse events. Building resilience is about enabling people, communities and systems better prepared to withstand catastrophic events, both natural and man-made and to provide them with the ability to bounce back (or bounce forward) and emerge stronger. I acknowledge that many of our residents in Christchurch have come to resent the use of the word resilience, as it tends to minimise their situation, having been worn down by dealing with insurance companies, community dislocation, dashed expectations and an uncertain future. The earthquakes did not cause equal damage across the city, and some places are doing better than they ever were before while other areas have been devastated. There is no one who is unaffected, even though they may have escaped the physical damage. There are the new neighbours, house prices have increased, rents are auctioned at the gate of rental properties, traffic congestion is found in residential streets not built as main thoroughfares and there is car parking in quiet neighbourhoods with the influx of relocated businesses from the CBD. The challenges are significant. One of my first jobs as Mayor was to lodge Christchurch's application to become one of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities network. This is their centennial project, which is to create a legacy around resilience, which means in their words helping individuals and communities prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To be chosen for this project would be great for Greater Christchurch – firstly we would be resourced to develop a resilience plan for the city, but more importantly we would become part of the network of 100 cities worldwide. People should not under-estimate the power of networking, which is really what my time associated with the UNISDR has given me access to – including meeting people like Laurie.
New Zealand is a signatory to the Hyogo Framework for Action, which is a 10 year planning tool designed to substantially reduce disaster losses by building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. It was launched in 2005 and in 2015 the international community comes back together to determine what will replace it. Japan is hosting the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai.
I believe Christchurch could present a powerful narrative in light of our experiences and could present a unique perspective on a variety of themes – preparedness, (the Orion case study of planned resilience), land use – better knowledge of life risk and climate change impacts – from cliffs to floodplains, emergent community responses and how to integrate with formal responses (SVA). I have been using this report, written by the US National Research Academy, 'Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative' as a ready guide to the direction we could adopt. It confronts the topic of how to increase the nation's resilience to disasters through a vision of the characteristics of a resilient nation in the year 2030. This is what they say a more resilient nation would look like in 2030:
· Every individual and community in the nation has access to the risk and vulnerability information they need to make their communities more resilient. I remember the community meetings where the older residents said they knew Pacific Park should never have been built. We cannot afford to continue to under-estimate the value of local knowledge. · All levels of government, communities, and the private sector have designed resilience strategies and operation plans based on this information. Who is the best to develop a tsunami evacuation plan – the coastal community that will be wiped out if they don't get to high enough ground quickly enough or an expert from the council or civil defence? It's both. Obviously the community needs to lead the work, but they still need the experts providing advice and support. · Proactive investments and policy decisions have reduced loss of lives, costs, and socio-economic impacts of future disasters. This is about building social capital. Most people who are saved in disasters are saved by neighbours, co-workers and passers-by. Knowing this would you invest dollars in USAR capability or making sure every taxi-driver had a first-aid certificate. · Community coalitions are widely organized, recognized, and supported to provide essential services before and after disasters occur. This is actually about doing things for ourselves. Situation reports can be rapidly put together in neighbourhoods and reported to the emergency operations centre. Trusted community leaders can be the information conduit in and out. · Recovery after disasters is rapid and the per capita federal cost of responding to disasters has been declining for a decade. $1 spent on disaster risk reduction is $4 saved in recovery. · Nationwide, the public is universally safer, healthier, and better educated. That is the legacy we could leave the nation. The report provides a basis for developing a "culture of disaster resilience", which I believe could give us a platform as a city to begin a conversation about shared governance or as we have been talking as a council co-creation and participatory democracy. The report highlights these steps: (1) Taking responsibility for disaster risk; (2) Addressing the challenge of establishing the core value of resilience in communities, including the use of disaster loss data to foster long-term commitments to enhancing resilience; (3) Developing and deploying tools or metrics for monitoring progress toward resilience; (4) Building local, community capacity because decisions and the ultimate resilience of a community are driven from the bottom up; (5) Understanding the landscape of government policies and practices to help communities increase resilience; and (6) Identifying and communicating the roles and responsibilities of communities and all levels of government in building resilience. The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management devoted its last journal, Tephra, to our local resilient communities – including Project Lyttelton. It concluded with a chapter by Robert L Bach who has been supporting an international dialogue on these issues. He said this:
"Resilient communities adapt through creating innovative approaches to collective governance, seizing unexpected opportunities to decide for themselves how to respond, organising to work with government agencies in new ways and accepting both the responsibility and promise of joint decisionmaking"
"The need to support new forms of local governance through collaborative efforts has become an essential dimension of resilient communities. Resilience involves transformation of the role of citizen and grassroots organisations from that of stakeholders, who are able at best to advise governments, to full equity partners. Equity partners are full shareholders, equally able to participate in the design and implementation of disaster-related efforts." The thing that excites me most about what he says is the boundless possibility that is presented by the possibility of collective governance. If we, in government, helped our communities to develop their own capacity to engage in local governance in a meaningful way, communities would not only be better prepared for disaster should one strike, but would also be better and safer places to live.