New Zealand expert presents on flood management Standard at Asian Development Bank seminar

To help its member countries manage disasters better, Asian Development Bank (ADB) has kept track of the development of the New Zealand Standard, NZS 9401:2008, Managing flood risk – A process Standard.

Poor disaster management is a risk to communities in the Asia-Pacific area. ADB, an economic development organisation with 60 member countries including Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, provides development support in the Asia-Pacific region. It supports the International Center for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) in its engagement in regional flood management projects.

ADB asked Terry Day, a member of the committee that developed NZS 9401, to talk at a seminar in Japan about what we are doing in New Zealand to address flood risk.

Terry presented at a seminar on 11 June 2009 in Tsukuba, near Tokyo, Japan. Seminar participants included 30 people from ADB, ICHARM, the Public Works Research Institute, and Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

Flood risk management in New Zealand

Terry's seminar presentation 'Flood risk management' included the key points outlined below.

Relevance to ADB

'ADB and its members need a comprehensive way of looking at flood risk and the content of NZS 9401 could help them,' says Terry.

The New Zealand approach, as flood protocol and then a national Standard is not directly transferable to the Asia-Pacific regional institutions, but it does provide a useful high-level decision-making framework for flood risk management.

NZS 9401 content reflects international best practice.

Flood protocol

Floods remain New Zealand's number one hazard and flood risk management now focuses on managing flood risks rather than defending against floods.

A Flood Protocol was developed in 2005 by the Intergovernmental Flood Risk Management Governance Group. 'The protocol was developed to get everyone involved in dealing with floods – councils, communities, consultants, and knowledge providers, using the same approach,' says Terry.

'The protocol was then developed into a Standard, NZS 9401, a process Standard designed to guide decision-making on flood risk.'

Managing flood risk Standard

'NZS 9401 is the first national hazard risk management process Standard – there is no other comparable Standard in the world, that we (the development committee) have found,' says Terry.

NZS 9401 is designed to be used nationwide as the standard process approach to considering flood risk. 'The Standard was developed to give users guidance on how to approach flood risk management – it is not a technical document,' says Terry.

'The main message of the Standard is the importance of taking a consistent and comprehensive approach to flood risk management, and treating all issues via the framework to ensure a broad and inclusive approach.'

The Standard sets out a framework, based on international best practice, that users can work through as they seek to resolve their flood management issues. 'We've always recognised that local communities make the decisions to reflect their circumstances, but the Standard helps them to think it through,' says Terry.

Users of the Standard include local authorities, regional councils, government departments, a mix of engineering, risk, and environmental consulting firms, insurance companies, infrastructure service providers, and surveyors.

The Standard takes a risk management approach based on the Risk management Standard, AS/NZS 4360:2004. (A handbook complements this Standard, HB 436:2004 Risk management guidelines ­– Companion to AS/NZS 4360:2004.)

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