The Toka Tū Ake Earthquake Commission (EQC) has recently allocated over $1.2 million to 14 research teams as part of its 2023 Biennial Grants program.
This funding initiative is directed at enhancing the understanding of natural hazard risks and developing strategies to mitigate their impacts.
According to a news release, the EQC's focus is on integrating natural hazard resilience into the decision-making processes related to housing, urban planning, and city development across New Zealand. By funding research, the commission aims to lessen the vulnerability of communities to natural hazards.
Since the program’s inception in 1989, the Biennial Grants have been a key component of the EQC's contestable funding strategy, distributed biennially. The 2023 round attracted nearly 80 expressions of interest, with the successful projects aligning with the commission's research investment priorities. These include empowering people through knowledge, quantifying hazards and their impacts, promoting smarter land use, and advancing resilient building practices.
Dr Natalie Balfour, head of research at EQC, emphasised the significance of the selected projects in understanding and reducing the risks posed by natural hazards in New Zealand.
“The successful projects cover most of our natural hazards from volcanoes to landslides, and many of the projects incorporate effects of climate change on these hazards, such as one on ‘slope hazard’ hotspots in Aotearoa’s changing climate,” Balfour said.
Notably, some projects incorporate Mātauranga Māori or are spearheaded by Māori researchers. One such study focuses on coastal inundation losses on Māori assets in the southern Marlborough district, aiming to combine traditional Māori knowledge with contemporary science for enhanced resilience.
“Investing in science and research is critical, as is translating it into tangible and appropriate outputs for others to use. If we can put sound data and research into the hands of key decision-makers like policy makers, local councils, designers, engineers, builders and most importantly, the New Zealand public, that’s when we can start making a difference,” Balfour said.
In 2023, the EQC has also made special allocations to support Māori-relevant research and early-career researchers, reflecting a commitment to diversify and expand the scope of its research program.
In addition to the Biennial Grants, Toka Tū Ake EQC invests in university research across New Zealand, supports regional and community organisations in their natural hazard and risk reduction research, and contributes to national systems like the GeoNet natural hazard monitoring system. This comprehensive approach aims to bolster New Zealand’s resilience against natural hazards through informed, science-based decision-making.
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