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Resilient New Zealand

Our aim is to help make New Zealand more resilient to natural disasters; to lessen their impact and enable better recovery when they occur.

New Zealand is highly exposed to the natural forces that have shaped our beautiful landscapes. Each year we are jolted by earthquakes, battered by storms and tornadoes, and inundated by floods. We also see our coastlines erode and hills slip, and we are potentially exposed to eruptions and tsunamis.

These events significantly impact the prosperity and wellbeing of our communities. The Canterbury earthquakes showed the extreme degree to which this can occur, and why, as a nation, we need to invest more in building our resilience to natural disasters.

This is why we created Resilient New Zealand: to identify, champion and advocate ways to help make New Zealand more resilient to natural disasters: both to lessen their impact and enable better recovery when they occur.

The Project

Using lessons from Canterbury to improve how business contribue to New Zealand's ability to recoverfrom natural disasters.

Businesses are an integral part of our communities and have important roles in building New Zealand’s resilience to natural disasters and enabling recovery when they strike.

We believe the way in which businesses fulfil these roles can be improved. They are in a unique position to strengthen the foundations of resilience and recovery through changing their own practices, working with other organisations, influencing public policy and altering public expectations.

The recovery from the Canterbury earthquakes presented an important opportunity to understand how to do this; to identify and advocate for ways to improve how businesses contribute to New Zealand’s resilience and ability to recover from natural disasters.

Improving the role of business in recovery is Resilient New Zealand’s first project and looks at how businesses can:

  • improve their own resilience and contribute towards community resilience;
  • play a greater leadership role in recovery; and
  • collaborate with other parties to better enable recovery.

Our report Contributing More: Improving the role of business in recovery is a starting point for change, and outlines how businesses, central and local government, and industry and community associations can work together to achieve this.

Contributing more

Improving the role of business in recovery

New Zealand is prone to the uncertain and catastrophic potential of natural hazards to impact our homes, businesses and communities. Our ability to recover when disaster strikes is vital to our prosperity and wellbeing.

Successfully recovery from natural disaster requires enabling businesses to survive and work with other organisations to contribute more to the recovery of their communities.

Drawing on discussions with more than 50 business, central and local government, and community leaders involved in the Canterbury earthquake recovery, Contributing More highlights a number of lessons on business resilience, leadership in recovery and collaboration. It also includes recommendations to both the public and private sector on how they can help facilitate businesses contributing more to future natural disaster recoveries.

The report includes important steps businesses can take to ensure they not only survive natural disasters, but thrive and contribute their considerable skills, experience and resources to wider community recovery. It encourages businesses to be proactive, reduce their risks, and build networks that will enable collaboration opportunities. In addition, it recommends updating central and local government frameworks in order to unlock and make best use of the contributions of businesses

Business resilience

Findings on helping businesses to improve their own resilience.

If businesses don’t survive, they can’t contribute. Functioning businesses are critical to the economy and recovery through providing and consuming goods and services, employing people, paying tax and contributing to their local communities.

In considering business resilience, Resilient New Zealand has looked for some simple and practical lessons to help businesses improve their own disaster preparedness, as well as contribute to wider community resilience. Our focus was on:

  • ways to improve preparedness for disasters;
  • building agility in responding and getting through a disaster; and
  • identifying how businesses can contribute to a community’s resilience.

Our report Contributing More makes the following observations about the general nature of resilience and the characteristics of resilient organisations:

  • Resilience is forward looking
  • Resilience is 50% planning and 50% agility
  • Protecting the integrity of the economy is critical
  • Scale is a key enabler of resilience
  • Businesses with clear ‘recovery roles’ are better prepared to contribute.

Also contained are the following lessons for businesses looking to improve their resilience:

  • Invest in risk management
  • Well-considered plans enable organisations to focus on the right things
  • Practise enables organisations to think on their feet
  • Make people a priority
  • A culture of empowerment and trust is critical.

These findings and lessons underpin the recommendations we make in Contributing More that focus on steps businesses can take to ensure they not only survive natural disasters but thrive and are able to contribute their considerable skills, experience and resources to wider community recovery.

Leadership

Findings on helping businesses play a greater leadership role in recovery.

The leadership of recovery can come from many places in the community. There is a strong belief that businesses can take a leadership role, both through the recovery of their own organisations and their contribution to wider community recovery.

In considering leadership, Resilient New Zealand has looked for ways for the business community to improve how it can help lead recovery. This included:

  • understanding the many ways business and its leaders can lead in a recovery;
  • which governance and decision-making structures can best enable business to contribute; and
  • how business can enable and support wider community leadership

Our report Contributing More makes the following observations about the general approach to leadership in a recovery:

  • Recovery needs one party to establish governance
  • Recovery needs many leaders
  • There are many and diverse ways for businesses to lead in a recovery
  • Leadership styles need to adapt to the circumstances
  • Different drivers can get in the way of effective leadership
  • New leaders will emerge
  • Recovery is a long hard road and leaders need support
  • Communication is critical.

Also contained are the following ways to improve recovery leadership:

  • Enable businesses to contribute through strong recovery governance
  • Encompass all recovery environments in governance
  • Harness the skills and attributes businesses can bring to a recovery
  • Strengthen relationships between business, government and the wider community
  • Understand what type of leadership is needed
  • Think beyond rebuild to regeneration.

There is an opportunity to use these lessons to provide the right environment for businesses to contribute before and after future disasters. These lessons underpin the recommendations we make in Contributing More that focus on steps businesses and central and local government can take to unlock and make best use of the contributions that businesses can make to wider community recovery.

Collaboration

Findings on helping businesses collaborate with others to better enable recovery.

We know that businesses can make a major contribution to recovery but there is not always a clear understanding of the different roles they can play and how they can best collaborate with other sectors of the community.

In considering collaboration, Resilient New Zealand has looked for ways to improve how businesses can work with all sectors involved in recovery, such as central and local government, NGOs and communities. This included:

  • understanding the type and effectiveness of collaborations that exist;
  • other collaborations/partnerships could have contributed to the recovery; and
  • the factors are key to successful collaboration.

Our report Contributing More makes the following observations about post-disaster collaborations:

  • Disasters require new and different collaborations
  • There is incredible goodwill and desire to collaborate
  • Most collaborations have a natural life expectancy
  • Collaboration is easier within sectors
  • The need to share information is prevalent
  • Unlikely partners can successfully collaborate.

Contributing More recognises the following ways to enable successful collaborations in a recovery:

  • Embrace the experience and expertise of others
  • Develop relationships before disaster strikes
  • Agree a common purpose, built on openness
  • Establish strong governance
  • Consider co-location.

There is an opportunity for businesses to lay the foundations for future collaborations before disaster strikes. These lessons underpin the recommendations in Contributing More that focus on steps businesses and central and local government can take to build networks that will enable greater collaboration in support of business and wider community recovery.

Recommendations

Recommendations to improve the role of business in recovery

New Zealand needs to create an environment in which businesses are proactive in becoming more resilient and, when disaster strikes, contributing to the recovery of their communities.

Resilient New Zealand encourages businesses to embed resilience in their existing planning structures and practices, so they are better able to contribute to recovery. We want to ensure that businesses are also working with central and local government to develop governance frameworks that enable the capabilities, resources and people of businesses to be better utilised in a recovery.

Our report Contributing More makes the following recommendations:

  • Be proactive – businesses need to act now to identify and enable the contributions they can make to community disaster resilience and recovery and to support other organisations to do the same
  • Improve risk management – businesses need to develop a greater understanding of the risks and impacts of natural disasters and their consequences and to establish risk management frameworks to mitigate these
  • Strengthen disaster plans – businesses need to maintain robust plans that encompass all aspects of their businesses, including employees, assets, information, distribution channels, customers and suppliers. Plans need to be sufficiently practised and roles need to be clearly established
  • Invest in agility – businesses need to become more agile by focusing on their culture, leadership development, staff engagement; building the right skills and capabilities and maintaining wellbeing
  • Build relationships and networks – businesses need to build broad and deep networks with other businesses, central and local government, NGOs and other organisations in their communities
  • Plan to strengthen community resilience – local governments need to increase their focus on community resilience in their planning and work with businesses to unlock the contribution they can make. Businesses need to actively engage with local government in this
  • Focus on recovery in Civil Defence Emergency Management – the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management and regional Civil Defence Emergency Management groups need to increase their focus on recovery within their strategies and plans and to work with businesses to unlock the contribution they can make. Businesses need to actively engage in this
  • Develop a national blueprint for major disaster recovery – the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management needs to develop a governance blueprint for national emergencies, to act as a key resource for major disaster recovery.