Disaster Governance for Resilience: From Concrete Ingredients Towards General Menus a Post-Earthquake Christchurch Case-Study

Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: Booth 48
Oral Presentation
Melanie BAKEMA , University of Groningen, Netherlands
Constanza PARRA , University of Groningen, Netherlands
Philip MCCANN , Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, Netherlands
Paul DALZIEL , Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Lincoln University, New Zealand
Caroline SAUNDERS , Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Lincoln University, New Zealand
Societies can be prepared for disasters, but uncertainties will nevertheless always remain. Although disasters impact all aspects of society, there is a social vacuum in international protocols for disaster management as they privilege a technocratic-oriented approach which proves insufficient when systems are overwhelmed. The objective of this paper is to investigate sustainability transitions and governance practices towards resilient disaster-prone areas, based on insights from Christchurch, New Zealand.

The paper is structured in four parts. First, theoretical connections are drawn between the concepts of institutions, governance, resilience and disasters. We argue that it is impossible to create one recipe for disaster governance, since every context differs institutionally and has its own path-dependent characteristics (Acemoglu and Robinson, 2013; Rodrik, 2007). Therefore, we should think of governance approaches that proved to be general menus for sustainable recovery, instead of a tray of concrete ingredients that should work as a panacea.

Second, we present a framework for examining disaster governance from a multi-level perspective. The shift in disaster studies from management – emergency management and technocratic solutions – towards governance enables multi-level and multi-actor collaboration highlighting long-term recovery processes (Tierney, 2012).

The third part is devoted to the Christchurch case-study. In 2010 and 2011, Christchurch experienced multiple devastating earthquakes. While theories stress the importance of social engagement and multi-level governance in recovery processes for place attachment, people in Christchurch argue that this was not sufficiently central in the aftermath of the earthquakes.

The paper concludes with reflections on the share of governance responsibilities between states and markets, central and local governments and groups and individuals (Ostrom, 2012). We argue that all actors are needed in the processes to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience. Questions remain however, when and how governance should be whose responsibility in order to create resilient pre- and post-disaster places.