Disaster Risk and Resilience

About the group

The Disaster Risk and Resilience Group at University of Canterbury is the forefront of disaster resilience research and implementation both in New Zealand and internationally.  We also offer the interdisciplinary Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience in collaboration with the planning school at Lincoln University.

 The United Nations defines a disaster as a serious disruption of social and community functions, involving so many losses and destructive impacts that affected communities and regions are unable to cope using their own resources. Global efforts to reduce the impacts of disasters over the last decade have failed to keep up with growing exposure of people and assets to natural and other hazards, which is generating new risks and a steady rise in disaster-related losses. To reverse this trend, UN member nations ratified the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015.

The Sendai Framework calls for a broad, people-centred, preventative approach to disaster risk reduction, in which communities, government and private sectors, civil society organisations, academia, and research institutions work together to build resilience and develop collaborative disaster reduction practices. Increasingly, the Sendai goals are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, and to global efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The New Zealand landscape is physically dynamic, with droughts, floods, earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides and tsunami threatening increasing impacts to a rapidly growing developed economy.  Recent earthquake disasters accelerated the development of a national disaster Resilience Strategy (2019).  In laying out the national approach to improving New Zealand’s resilience to disaster impacts, including those associated with climate change, the Resilience Strategy aligns with government-funded research programmes targeting disaster resilience. 

The Disaster Risk and Resilience Group at University of Canterbury plays a leading role in a number of interdisciplinary projects and resilience initiatives. Current and completed research undertaken by members of the Group includes projects and programmes funded by the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges programme (including the Rural, Multi-hazards Risk Management and Resilience in Practice programmes), the Endeavour Fund, and the EQC.  Current topics include

  • Disaster risk governance and disaster management decision-making and governance
  • The coproduction of disaster resilience
  • Development of new and novel multi-hazard impact assessment approaches
  • The interdisciplinary, cross-sector collaborative development and implementation of earthquake, volcano, landslide, flood and coastal erosion disaster impact scenarios
  • Collaborative development and implementation of regional science/practice/policy disaster risk management platforms
  • Innovative resilience decision-making
  • Drivers of rural resilience
  • Pre-event adaptation for disaster impact reduction
  • Managed retreat from high-risk areas

Contact us

Sarah Beaven

Senior Lecturer
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 208
Internal Phone: 95992

Tim Davies

Natural Hazards
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 209
Internal Phone: 94508

Matthew Hughes

Senior Lecturer
Civil & Natural Resources Engineering E446
Internal Phone: 94599

Tom Robinson

Internal Phone: 90758

Tom Wilson

Disaster Risk and Resilience
Beatrice Tinsley Rm 210
Internal Phone: 94503

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