IAG Seeks Three Step Plan For Natural Hazard Prone New Zealand Homes – Commits To Being Part Of The Solution
IAG remains committed to being a part of the solution when it comes to natural hazard prone areas by outlining practical steps to help reduce flood risk in New Zealand.
IAG is calling for three practical, collaborative steps to be taken which will lead to a real reduction in the flood risk faced by some of New Zealand’s most exposed communities.
IAG New Zealand CEO Amanda Whiting says: “Climate change is a critical issue for our country and it’s already having serious impacts on the lives of New Zealanders through more frequent and intense storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and, in time, rising sea levels.
“The most important thing we can do is ensure people are not placed in harm’s way and do not suffer the loss and disruption caused by a flood event. Avoiding the impact on lives and people’s wellbeing must be the priority.
“As New Zealand’s largest general insurer, with a relationship with one in two households, we see first-hand the devastating impact flooding has on New Zealanders and the risk it poses to people’s lives and general wellbeing.
“Our job is to provide insurance to support New Zealanders when things go wrong, and we are committed to being here to help people recover. But insurance is only one component of the solution, and we also know there is much more that needs to be done to keep New Zealanders safe from the impacts of flooding.
“Development and investment decisions are leading to more people living in flood prone locations, where they face growing risks due to the impacts of our changing climate on rainfall and sea level. The last two years alone have seen 10 major floods with insured losses of around $400 million, plus wider economic and social costs that extend into the billions.
“Tragically, weather events in New Zealand have also resulted in serious injury and loss of life.
“Reducing the impacts of flooding is a large and complex challenge, but not an impossible one. There are practical, concrete actions we can take to increase our resilience.
“The most sensible course of action is to stop making this problem worse and better protect the one percent of New Zealand homes that are most exposed to flooding. New Zealand’s traditional focus on response and recovery must expand to place much more emphasis on prevention and risk reduction.
“The National Adaptation Plan was a great start in the response to the impacts of climate change and includes a wide range of activity that will help grow New Zealand’s ability to adapt. But we need to be much more specific, targeted and urgent about the steps we will take to reduce the risk of flooding.
“To keep people safe, we need to think smarter. We need greater investment in infrastructure and other solutions that either protect people or move them out of harm’s way.”
The three steps are:
1. A joint government and private sector project to build a common understanding of priority flood-prone communities
First, we need to create a common understanding of which flood prone locations are most in need of support to reduce the risk they face.
This can be done through a formal project between central and local government, and other stakeholders to identify and prioritise flood prone locations. This project needs to take into account current exposure, quality of current flood protections, the financial position of councils, the deprivation and resilience of communities, the availability and affordability of insurance and lending, as well as current flood protection investment plans and projects.
2. Implement a National Policy Statement to cease development in flood-prone locations
Second, we need to stop building in flood prone locations, so the problem doesn’t get worse.
This would best be achieved through a National Policy Statement developed by the Ministry for the Environment | Manatū Mō Te Taiao working alongside local government and other stakeholders to develop a statement that requires councils to avoid new development, or intensification of existing development, within locations that are exposed to flooding that may occur more frequently than one in 50-years.
3. Establish a national programme of investment in flood protection
We need to develop and carry out a programme to improve flood defences in our most at-risk communities.
This would involve the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission | Te Waihanga working with Treasury | Te Tai Ōhanga, local government and other stakeholders to develop a business case and a programme of work for investment in flood protection infrastructure for priority flood-prone locations.
Mrs Whiting continues: “These are practical steps that will lead to a sensible and targeted reduction of flood risk for the communities that most need it. IAG is prepared to play its part in each of these steps.
“Reducing the impact of flooding through better planning and infrastructure investment will help us to avoid a situation in the future where low-lying communities are more frequently disrupted by floods. If this continues, those homes and businesses that are the most exposed to flooding will find it difficult to obtain or afford insurance.
“For all New Zealanders, this is a future case scenario we resolutely want to avoid.
“Failure to properly plan and invest will not only make insurance harder to get and more expensive over time, but also cause wider and more devastating impacts on the physical and financial wellbeing of our most flood-prone communities.
“IAG is committed to working with central and local government on these initiatives to ensure the safety and security of our fellow New Zealanders.”