Wellington forges ahead with resilience plan

29 September 2016

Wellington City Council has been presented with 30 initiatives aimed at making the Capital City more resilient to acute shocks and chronic stresses resulting from major natural, social or economic events.

The initiatives are contained in the Resilience Strategy which was presented at last night’s final Council meeting.

The proposed initiatives have resulted from an extensive consultation examining the key areas for investment in Wellington’s resilience.

Globally, 100 cities are undertaking similar work as part of the 100 Resilient Cities movement, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Wellington’s Resilience Strategy has been led by a steering group comprising leaders from the Wellington insurance, academic, business, housing, government and social sectors. The steering group co-chairs are Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Professor David Johnston from the Joint Centre for Disaster Research.

The initiatives are aimed at growing resilience in four areas: infrastructure and environment, health and wellbeing, leadership and strategy, and economy and society.

Professor Johnston noted that the initiatives are a mix of long-term strategic initiatives and some short-term tactical initiatives that can be done more quickly.

“It is great that the city is planning ahead to deal with things like sea-level rise, encouraging electric vehicles and trying to address issues like homelessness. But it is just as important to maintain momentum by building on smaller things, like business continuity planning and community building activities.”

Mayor Wade-Brown agreed that the draft resilience strategy contains a good mixture of projects, with people at the heart of all of them.

“People tend to focus on the big infrastructure and engineering projects when we’re talking resilience, and we need to deal with that. But at the heart of this is looking after our people. One of the best things any individual can do to make Wellington more resilient is to get to know your neighbour – at home, at work or at play. Your neighbours will provide the first help following an acute shock or chronic stress event.”

She says the initiatives are all important and the funding will come from various sources including the city’s Rockefeller Foundation platform partners and other local institutions and organisations. All the initiatives have co-benefits beyond resilience, and all are focussed on supporting people. The range and type of the initiatives we are considering include:

  • An integrated programme of activities and resources to help communities to build resilience.
  • Working with Wellington’s electricity sector to build in ‘redundancy’ and flexibility to the supply.
  • Refocussing resources and effort to implement the Te Mahana Homelessness strategy.
  • Developing a 3D virtual-reality model of Wellington’s central city for planning and training.
  • Rebooting business continuity planning to achieve better penetration.

Mayor Wade-Brown thanked the Steering Group and those who had contributed to date.

“The city’s development of a Resilience Strategy has generated further momentum; there is a real appetite for risk reduction instead of just responding to stresses and shocks. The Capital has the added advantage of having NIWA, GNS, three universities and the Government based here. This strategy will provide a focus so that this generation can ensure that Wellington will be a better and safer place for our children and grandchildren, no matter what shocks or stresses they may face.”

The incoming City Council will receive more detail on the proposal in the coming months and will consider each of them as part of Council planning processes.