Built Environment Leaders Forum

Applying lessons from Canterbury to improve management of risks from natural hazards.


Canterbury has taught us many painful but valuable lessons – about the way we build, the land we build on, the fragility of our infrastructure and above all, the cost of resilience. Now, we need to take what we have learnt and work together to strengthen national resilience.

A very successful Built Environment Leaders Forum was held at Te Papa on September 10-11. The purpose of the forum was to apply lessons from the Canterbury earthquakes to improve the way we manage risks to New Zealand’s built environment from all natural hazards. It was supported by a Steering Committee with representation from MBIE, EQC, BRANZ, LGNZ, MfE, MCDEM, The Treasury, DPMC, GNS and Christchurch City Council.

The forum was a joint initiative between MBIE, BRANZ and the EQC. Senior leaders from government, industry and the community gathered to collectively tackle cross-sector issues related to the resilience of the built environment and agree on priorities for action across five themes: strategic directions; economics of resilience; smarter land use; better building performance and resilient infrastructure. The discussion was supported by a range of leading New Zealand speakers, four international experts and a Canterbury lessons background paper [PDF 423KB]

Both days were well supported by up to 200 attendees. They included chief executives, directors and principals from our engineering and planning consultancies, lifeline utilities, building, banking, insurer and legal communities, technical experts and researchers, as well as excellent representation from central and local government, including councillors from Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.

Key themes

Drawing on lessons from the Canterbury experience, forum attendees discussed and debated how we could improve urban resilience.

Four key themes to emerge from the two-day discussion can be summarised as follows:

  • We need a framework and governance at national level for managing risks to the built environment.
  • We need incentives and tools that enable and justify appropriate levels of private and public sector investment in urban resilience.
  • We need to build better public understanding of the risk of natural hazards, and educate communities on the consequences of not investing in resilience and the trade-offs if we do.
  • Finally, we need data and evidence to “sell” the resilience story and to develop risk mitigation measures.



The full list of presentations:

Dr Lucy Jones - Science Advisor for Risk Reduction, Natural Hazards Mission of the US Geological Survey, Los Angeles

International directions on reducing risks from natural hazards to the built environment: what can be learned from LA’s plans for risk reduction?
Download: Speech notes only [PDF 62KB]

Lianne Dalziel - Mayor of Christchurch

(Speech presented by Mike Gillooly, Chief Resilience Officer, Christchurch City Council)
Building resilient cities and communities: what are the lessons from Christchurch?
Download: Presentation [PDF 2.3MB]

Girol Karacaoglu - Deputy Secretary, Macroeconomics, International and Economic Research, The Treasury

As a society how do we prioritise resilience activities? How do we develop a framework to determine what should be spent on resilience?
Download: Presentation [PDF 339KB]

Martin Kreft - Swiss Re reinsurer, Auckland

How do we optimise investment in risk reduction and resilience – an insurance perspective?
Download: Presentation [PDF 554KB]

Kel Sanderson – Director, BERL (Business and Economic Research Ltd)

How do we optimise investment in risk reduction and resilience – a private sector perspective?
Download: Presentation [PDF 463KB]

Michael Nolan – Melbourne - AECOM Global Lead – Climate Adaptation & Resilience (100 Resilient Cities/Rockefeller Foundation) (Time: 15 minutes)

Download: Presentation [PDF 816KB]

Laurie Johnson – Principal, Laurie Johnson Consulting, Urban Planning, Risk Management and Disaster Recovery, San Francisco

Panel discussion - How can we plan our land uses in a smarter way to manage the risks from natural hazards?
Download: Presentation [PDF 1.2MB]

Craig Stobo – Chair, Local Government Funding Agency

What is the role of local government in managing risk reduction and resilience? Where are we now and where should we be heading in the future?
Download: Presentation [PDF 545KB]

Connal Townsend – Chief Executive, NZ Property Council

Insights about building resilience arising from the Canterbury earthquakes: what changes are needed by the private sector to improve the resilience of New Zealand’s buildings?
Download: Presentation [PDF 2.2MB]

Mike Stannard - Chief Engineer, MBIE

Improving the resilience of new and existing commercial buildings: what steps should be considered?
Download: Presentation [PDF 1.5MB]

Graeme Beattie, Structural Engineer, BRANZ

Improving the resilience of new and existing homes: what innovations should we be developing?
Download: Presentation [PDF 1.2MB]

Tom O’Rourke – Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Engineering, Cornell University

International lessons on reducing risks from natural hazards and key directives for improving the resilience of infrastructure in NZ?
Download: Presentation [PDF 9.6MB]