Land use planning for risk reduction through avoidance of sensitive and vulnerable activities in natural hazards zone

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November 2023
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Institute of Development Studies, Massey University
Natural disasters around the world highlight that it is often the most vulnerable groups that are impacted due to low incomes, no insurance, and poor-quality housing (Chang et al., 2015). Land use planning is regarded as the most effective tool for protecting communities from natural hazards (including climate change), for risk reduction and increasing resilience (Beban & Gunnell, 2019; McGregor et al, 2021; Saunders et al, 2014). By avoiding vulnerable activities in natural hazard areas and protecting critical facilities like emergency response facilities/shelters, hospitals, marae and key infrastructure serves to increase resilience if a disaster happens. In New Zealand (NZ) responsibility for disaster risk reduction is primarily given to local councils, who through their district/unitary or city plans outline how this will be achieved and controlled. Separation of “Sensitive or Vulnerable” activities from natural hazards areas and implementing rules to manage these activities is seen as the key to achieving risk reduction. Recent extreme weather events in New Zealand highlighted the urgency to increase resilience of communities, assets, and infrastructure. The question is whether defining and classifying Sensitive and Vulnerable activities and putting in place rules in current district plans and policy statements to manage these activities in natural hazard areas can reduce risks and contribute to meeting key relevant indicator goals for SDG11 Sustainable Cities and SDG13 Climate Change, including Sendai Framework targets (UN, 2015, 2015a). The effectiveness of land use planning for risk reduction is debatable and whether more national guidance or tools are needed to assist with implementation. This research also seeks to identify indicators that Councils could use to track more closely progress in risk reduction towards meeting SDGs 11 and 13.
IDS Working Paper
Sensitive, Vulnerable, Risk Reduction, Resilience, Sustainability, New Zealand