Science Challenge focuses on natural disasters

  • Steven Joyce
Science and Innovation

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has launched the Resilience to Nature’s Challenges National Science Challenge, confirming initial funding of $19.6 million.

The Kia manawaroa – Ngā Ākina o Te Ao Tūroa Challenge is the sixth to be launched, and aims to enhance New Zealand’s resilience to natural disasters.

Hosted by GNS Science, it involves a collaboration of three Crown research institutes, six universities and four independent research organisations.

The latest Challenge will create new science-informed approaches to resilience and fast-track their implementation, ultimately making New Zealand safer and more viable economically, Mr Joyce says.

"The research will combine hazard knowledge with innovation to enable New Zealanders to better anticipate, adapt and thrive in the face of nature’s challenges.

“Involving multi-disciplinary research across a range of research organisations working with councils, communities, businesses, iwi, and central government agencies, it will take an ‘all hazards’ approach to help develop innovative new solutions.

“This might include, for example, research on durable engineering solutions for protecting infrastructure, along with governance structures that allow authorities to better address risk.”

Resilience to Nature’s Challenges will initially focus on:

  • The safety of communities along coastlines and rivers facing the most intense environmental threats;
  • Working with the rural sector to enhance the resilience of farms and supply chains; and
  • Ways to embed risk management into business, iwi and government decision-making.

The new $19.6 million investment complements the recently announced QuakeCORE Centre of Research Excellence, the $3.2 million in funding for 13 research projects under the Natural Hazards Research Platform, and ongoing core funding for Crown Research Institutes.

The 11 National Science Challenges are designed to tackle the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand. Each Challenge includes both new funding and funds that will become available as current research contracts directly related to each Challenge mature.

The new Challenge money comprises $133.5 million over four years allocated in Budgets 2012 and 2013, and continuing funding of $30.5 million per year thereafter.