FCN Strategic Workshop – Thought provoking presentation by Bruce Glavovic

The very successful FCN Strategic Workshop held on Tuesday 20 June was underpinned by a very thought provoking presentation from Dr Bruce Glavovic, Associate Director of the Joint Centre for Disaster Research located at Massey University.

Bruce distilled the key issues which can be extracted from management of recovery from other natural disasters into a highly interesting presentation – available from the link below.

The key messages were about inclusiveness, transparency, robust recovery process and the different skill sets than those required for the management of the emergency itself.

Glavovic – What research tells us about successful disaster recovery in other places


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One response to “FCN Strategic Workshop – Thought provoking presentation by Bruce Glavovic

  1. I thought Bruce was a very successful speaker at the Resilient Futures, Conference at Lincoln University in April this year.

    His talk is here:

    It’s the fourth video down.

    Here are my notes, which you might find useful.
    * * * * * * * * *
    Bruce C Glavovic, ECQ Chair in Natural Hazards Planning, Massey University.

    From my notes:
    What do disaster stories teach us?

    1. Disasters are unavoidable. Historically, they have always happened.

    2. Preventing death from disaster is often possible and it pays if it’s done right.

    3. Recovery = Community (re) development in a “pressure cooker”.

    4. Recovery = Democracy in action. Empower local people: it is their recovery; their renewal.

    What do disaster stories teach us?

    The recovery from a disaster has four distinct phases.

    The Disaster – Phase last about two weeks.

    The Patch-up – Starting as soon as possible and lasting for 10 weeks with some patching up continuing for a further ten weeks. Most of the services are running by now, and rubble is mostly cleared.

    Reconstruction. – There’s a huge desire to return to normal. Replacing what was lost seems important. That may be at the cost of the communities once in a lifetime chance to really make substantial and critical changes that will “better” the city.

    Opportunity exists that will quickly be lost – to fix major structural issues that the built existing environment made impossible to resolve. Now much of that built environment is gone. What’s now possible?

    There is a social disaster too. Broken businesses, broken communities, broken institutions. The best way to fix this is for people to actively participate in the recovery. Leaving it to the experts always produces an inferior result.

    There are three competing main ideas:
    Return to normal.
    Reduce future risk.
    Community betterment.

    In a city like Christchurch, there were many pre-earthquake studies of transport, waterways, building sites, building codes, social development, provision of services, many many things. Those studies contain critical information that can inform the recovery. Plans already exist; since the disaster, a few important things have changed, but most of what those plans said will still apply. Updating the planning will take weeks, not months.

    1. Develop a shared vision of recovery.
    2. Use consensus-building and participatory processes.
    3. Invest in local communities.
    4. Preserve cultural and historical heritage.
    5.Build local economic vitality.
    6. Maintain and enhance the quality of life.
    7. Promote social and intergenerational equity.
    8. Protect environmental quality.
    9. Prioritise risk reduction and mitigation.

    (Adapted from Natural Hazards Center)

    A good recovery is democracy in action.
    Things never go as smoothly as people would like.
    People feel disempowered, but they have a lot to offer and their input is vital to success.

    A promise to “fix things” and “reporting progress” is not a form of public participation. It’s a way of excluding people. So we have to imagine ways that allow more people to think seriously about the issues, and where each of them can have a say if they choose.

    In most communities this is done by paying planners and community workers to consult with individuals and groups in local offices, by working hard with the media, and by having many public meetings.

    There’s a question mark over how well we are doing this in Christchurch. If you want to learn more, find out about “Asset Based Community Development”. Do a web search, there are lots of references.

    What do disaster stories teach us?

    Exemplary pracitices include:

    A. Local Empowerment: focusing on the long-term economic and socail challenges facing communities recvovering from disaster.

    B. Innovative Organsation and Leadership: crucial to overcome bureaucratic impediments to disaster recovery.

    C. Sustainability Planning: Sustainability facilitates long term community outcomes, reduces vulnerability ad builds resilience.

    (Garnett and Moore, 2010)
    There was a feeling that this had been done much better at Kaiapoi than in Christchurch itself.
    Sandra James, from Kaiapoi said she had to learn on the job, but that the principles and practice of “Asset Based Community Development” had been critical to her success.

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