Disaster management conference hits Wellington

The “chronic underestimation” of New Zealand’s flood risk and the long-term economic impacts of the Christchurch earthquakes will be among the many topics discussed at an international natural hazards conference in Wellington this week.

The Australasian Natural Hazards Management Conference, taking place at Te Papa on 23-24 September, will attract more than 200 scientists, emergency planners and risk managers from New Zealand, Australia and around the world.

The event is being hosted by the Joint Centre for Disaster Research (JCDR) – a joint venture between Massey University and GNS Science. JCDR is IRDR’s International Centre of Excellence in Community Resilience (IRDR ICoE-CR).

JCDR Director Dr David Johnston says the conference explores how central government, councils and NGOs can work together to manage the risks posed by earthquakes, tsunamis, bushfires, storms, volcanic eruptions and other potentially devastating natural hazards.

“Bringing so many of the world’s best academic and practice experts together under one roof provides an ideal opportunity to plug in to the latest thinking, research and risk management advice.”

High profile New Zealand speakers attending this year’s event include NIWA Natural Hazards and Hydrodynamics Principal Scientist Graeme Smart, who will discuss the underestimation of flood risks in New Zealand, and EQC-MPI Chair in the Economics of Disaster Dr Ilan Noy, who will speak about the long-term economic impacts of the 2010-2011 Christchurch earthquakes.

Other speakers include US Research Geophysicist Dr Thomas Pratt from the US Geological Survey, Australia’s Dr Richard Thornton, CEO of Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, and Wellington’s own Dr Suzanne Phibbs and Dr Christine Kenney, from Massey University.

Dr Johnston says it is fitting that the event is being hosted in Wellington.

“Wellington is exposed to many natural hazards, from earthquakes and tsunamis to storms and flooding, making it the ideal stage to discuss new thinking and best practice management of risk.”

The Australasian Hazard Management Conference is held every two years. The 2014 event coincides with national “Get Ready Week”, running from 21-27 September.

Source: news.massey.ac.nz