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Businesses need to plan better to recover faster from disasters

Wednesday, November 19, 2014   Posted in: Earthquake By: Administrator With tags: business, emergencies, recovery

University of Canterbury media release: Friday 14th November 2014

Dr John Vargo.New Zealand businesses and organisations need to accurately plan better to recover faster from any major disaster, University of Canterbury resilience researcher Dr John Vargo says.

Dr Vargo will give a key talk to a landmark emergency management study visit on campus next week by Charles Sturt University students from Australia. Charles Sturt is the world's largest provider of university education in law enforcement, counter-terrorism, emergency management, customs and border security studies.

Twenty-one Charles Sturt University distance students will spend a week on campus learning the lessons of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. Speakers include former Christchurch mayor Sir Bob Parker, mayor Lianne Dalziel, Christchurch lawyer Nigel Hampton QC, Marsden Fund recipient Professor Deak Helton and Professor Jeremy Finn.

Participating agencies include the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority, Christchurch City Council, University of Canterbury, Resilient Organisations, the New Zealand Fire Service and St John Ambulance. The event is being run by the university’s Centre for Risk, Resilience and Renewal. Canterbury is the first university in New Zealand to offer a public safety qualification and the world’s first to offer a named graduate level qualification in search and rescue.

An increasingly vibrant Christchurch has become the engine room of New Zealand as the recovery and rebuild ramps up. Experts and researchers are looking at the lessons of Christchurch. Dr Vargo says Wellington planners are looking closely at Christchurch, to use lessons to increase Wellington's resilience.

"Businesses and organisations must plan to be resilient post-disaster. Many organisations do not have any business continuity, disaster preparedness or emergency plans. People must plan for the fact that a disaster will inevitably never fit an organisation’s planning assumptions.

"They must base their planning around consequences and impacts on the organisation, rather than basing it on particular events such as an earthquake or flooding. A city can’t be resilient unless the organisations that enable it to function are resilient. Organisations are like a keystone species within the ecology of a successful city - they touch every part of how a city functions. 

"Organisations own, operate and maintain our critical infrastructure, they create the economy, provide employment, are places where people gather and support the resilience of the people and communities they work within," Dr Vargo says. 

Planning for a disaster is good practice for businesses – however the disaster often doesn't align with the plan. Organisations need to be adaptive when this happens.

Contact Dr John Vargo at the Department of Accounting and information Systems (021 442 091) or UC Media Consultant Kip Brook (0275 030 168) for further information.