We see such a project as consistent with DANZ’s vision and mission of reducing energy and material throughput in our economy, and focusing what energy and natural materials we do use on ensuring basic human needs are met for everyone.
The notion of “resilient communities” has become somewhat of a buzz word in both environmental and even some government circles, but generally without much definition or detail. Climate adaptation programmes are said to involve resilient communities, and the National Emergency Management Agency also identifies resilient communities as critical resources for responding to natural disasters.
If we think about these two related tasks (adapting to inevitable climate impacts and natural disasters), it is clear that basic needs become the priority. Food, water, shelter, health care, communication, and social supports are what are needed in emergency situations.
This project would be built on the premise that the more locally these basic resources are distributed, the more useful they will be when a disaster hits. Affected communities will be better able to meet their own needs, and neighbouring communities will be available to provide support as well.
The recent intense weather events in the North Island made it clear that many communities where left to their own devices because government resources were overwhelmed by the scale of the disruption.
The interesting thing about a basic human needs approach to Resilient Communities is that these local resources are extremely useful even when disasters have not occurred. Ensuring everyone has adequate local nutritious food, shelter, water, etc may not seem innovative and aspirational. But the fact is that many NZers do not have these basic needs adequately met, and their lives would be significantly improved if they did. And everyone needs to understand the increasing importance of ensuring these basic resources and services (Covid helped with that).
Another important aspect of this approach is that it builds community. Whether it involves growing food together, helping to insulate cold houses, car and ride sharing, or any of the many other aspects of developing resilient communities, it involves people connecting locally and engaging in common cause.
There are of course many groups throughout the country who are already engaged in some aspect of such a movement. Such groups could become hubs around which more comprehensive resources and services could be made available in each community. Part of this project’s task would be to connect these groups, and provide support to enhance their outreach and effectiveness.
We suspect that funding for such an initiative could be obtained from various government resources available for climate adaptation and or emergency management planning.
But funding will require a sound proposal with a specific budget and identifiable outcomes.
This is a call out to members, and beyond, who feel they could contribute in some way to this project. If you know of anyone who might be interested in contributing to this project feel free to pass this survey on to them.
Please complete the attached short survey no later than 15 November: