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Kelvin Berryman 100

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The announcement on 17 October that New Zealand has been elected to the United Nations Security Council for a two year term is a positive signal of New Zealand’s commitment to global affairs.

Our place at the UN, coupled with the 2011 announcement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade that Philip Gibson will serve as New Zealand's special envoy for disaster risk management highlights New Zealand’s commitment to global disaster risk reduction ahead of the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan in March 2015. (Listen to New Zealand’s Statement at the PrepComm 3rd UN World conference on DRR).

I am very supportive of these recent developments. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon notes that natural hazards, along with armed conflict, pandemic, and food security represent the major challenges for society and require concerted efforts to minimise future impacts (Download UN Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience).

On behalf of the Natural Hazards Research Platform, I am taking part in discussions to form a national consensus on what is needed to make a difference in New Zealand’s disaster risk management. Alongside EQC, MCDEM (now residing within Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet), the Insurance Council of NZ, the National Infrastructure Unit of Treasury, Local Government NZ, and insurers and Deloitte we are all taking part in this national direction.

Having been heavily involved in the response and early stages of recovery from the Canterbury earthquakes, I see these developments as indications that New Zealand really is learning lessons from the events of 2010-11.

Over the past year, there’s been an increased commitment by government to prioritise natural hazards as part of its DRR strategy. There’s been consensus to push through the agreed natural hazard amendments to the Resource Management Act and more local authorities are developing a risk-based underpinning for future land use planning. And on the science front, resilience to natural hazards was recognised as one of the most pressing science challenges for New Zealand in developing the National Science Challenge.

When in Christchurch, I am reminded of the 185 brave souls who lost their lives on 22 February. I believe that our efforts towards a more resilient New Zealand – as covered by Platform and our partners – will provide a lasting legacy in their memory.

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Kelvin Berryman - Director, Natural Hazards Research Platform / Principal Scientist, GNS Science

Updates from the Natural Hazards Research Platform.

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