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A new initiative has been launched by a group of like-minded businesses to help lessen the impact of natural disasters in New Zealand and enable better recovery when they strike.

Beca, BNZ, IAG, New Zealand Red Cross and Vodafone have formed ‘Resilient New Zealand’ which aims to identify, champion and advocate ways to help make New Zealand more resilient to natural disasters.

As its first initiative, Resilient New Zealand is undertaking a project called ‘The Role of Business in Recovery’ to improve how the private sector contributes to the economic and social wellbeing of their communities following a natural disaster.

“The recovery in Canterbury presents an important opportunity to understand how we can better do this through building resilience, leading recovery and collaborating with other sectors,” says Jacki Johnson, IAG’s New Zealand Chief Executive Officer.

“Resilient New Zealand has engaged consultants PwC to conduct around 50 interviews with government, business and community leaders, primarily in the Canterbury region, to draw on their experience during the 2010 earthquakes,” she says.

“Businesses are an integral part of our communities and have an important role to play in any recovery effort. Their ability to get through the disaster, continue to operate and contribute their expertise is vital in helping communities to recover” Johnson says.

Resilient New Zealand member, New Zealand Red Cross, believes resilience isn’t just about good business continuity plans:

“As a country, we are well known for the strength of our communities, but there’s a lot more we should and could be doing to ensure that everyone is prepared for and supported during the next disaster we may face together,” says Tony Paine, Secretary General New Zealand Red Cross.

“Communities need to be linked together from large businesses to the corner store and local sports club, with families, neighbours and colleagues all prepared to help out during a natural disaster. The Resilient New Zealand initiative is a big step in the right direction to achieving that,” he says.

Research findings from ‘The Role of Business in Recovery’ project will inform a report, released later in the year, advocating for changed business practices, policies and expectations to improve how the business community can help with disaster recovery.

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