Aotearoa New Zealand needs to set up a national risk assessment authority to better prepare the country for high-impact risks and disasters.
In a new commentary, Risk listening: rethinking how we understand and manage risk, Sir Peter Gluckman and Dr Anne Bardsley say our understanding of the “riskscape” is clearly inadequate, as highlighted by the response and preparedness for the catastrophic weather events in the first two months of 2023.
There remains a deep disconnect between risk science and decision making and the authors say given New Zealand’s small size, a more coherent system of risk assessment and decision-making should be possible. Risk assessment and response should not be politicised, as the underlying issues are long-term and non-partisan.
The concept of a national risk register should be extended and maintained independently of the political community. An independent national risk assessment unit reporting to Parliament rather than the political Executive might be a good start.