Christchurch signs-off first stage of Resilience Strategy

24 Sep 2015

Christchurch is among the first group of cities around the globe to complete the initial phase of a Resilience Strategy to help safeguard the city's future against stresses and shocks.

In December 2013, Christchurch was selected by the Rockefeller Foundation to take part in the global 100 Resilient Cities Network. Christchurch's application was supported by Environment Canterbury (ECan) on the basis that the neighbouring Councils would be involved in developing the Resilience Strategy, along with the range of communities that make up the Greater Christchurch area.

The Preliminary Resilience Assessment being considered by Christchurch City Council this week enables the Council to work with a wide range of community and public service agencies to grapple with the very real challenge that must be addressed.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says the strategy is more than just a plan for the city's future.

"I see this as an opportunity for us to think about doing things differently. From resilient infrastructure to participatory democracy, the opportunities are boundless.

"The earthquakes have been a catalyst for change in Christchurch. This Resilience Strategy aims to take what we learned about our community and the strength we create in coming together, and kick-start the kinds of projects and activities that will make our cities and towns better places to be.

"For our Council, it could mean a whole new approach to governance and I am open to that. We should be looking at a co-creation framework with a much more engaged community. If the earthquakes taught us one thing, it's that there is strength in our communities coming together to take charge of their destiny."

Christchurch's Chief Resilience Officer Mike Gillooly says the first stage Preliminary Resilience Assessment has been a joint effort between city and district agencies and leaders.

Through a series of engagement forums and research exercises, four critical issues were highlighted which will be teased-out further as the strategy is finalised. They are:

  • Participative leadership and governance
  • Securing a prosperous future
  • Understanding and responding to future challenges
  • Connected neighbourhoods and communities.

The next stage of strategy development will involve in-depth investigation of these issues and the identification of projects and policies to address the issues. It will also demonstrate how the concept of resilience is best woven with the collaborative strategic thinking occurring as we enter a new phase of local leadership, including ensuring greater ownership across the Greater Christchurch area.

"This first stage was about getting an understanding of the issues and what work is already underway in Greater Christchurch. In the next phase we get much more involved in the key issues and identifying the specific projects and actions that will make a real difference for our communities."

The Resilience Strategy is a great step forward for greater Christchurch and for the region,” says Environment Canterbury Deputy Chair David Caygill.

“Now that the rebuild is reaching its peak, it is essential the four councils covering greater Christchurch are united in their approach in co-creating sustainable growth, making the wider city a great place to live, work and play – a place we are all proud to call home,” Mr Caygill said.

 What is a Resilience Strategy and who is 100RC?

100 Resilient Cities (100RC), pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. Christchurch was among the first 33 cities selected, from over 400 city applications, to join the 100RC network. 

100RC defines urban resilience as: “The capacity of individuals, communities, businesses and systems to survive, adapt and grow, no matter what chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”

Resilience thinking accepts that chronic stresses, such as poverty and homelessness, and acute shocks, like earthquakes and flooding, rarely happen in isolation. By considering shocks and stresses in the same strategy, a city is able to be more responsive to adverse events and be more effective in delivering core functions and services in both good times and bad. In addition, by addressing the shocks associated with potential hazards, cities can also gain a ‘resilience dividend’ benefitting both financially and socially by investing in actions that promote resilience.

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