P!Nevents: Protecting Storm Safety Zones

P!Nevents: Storm-safety Zones

New Zealand’s Dr. Bruce Glavovic comes stateside to share research about prepping entire communities for natural hazards.

Dr. Bruce Glavovic, Associate
Director of Massey University’s Joint Centre for Disaster Research in Palmerston North, New Zealand, will visit the Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters at UNC Chapel Hill (Hazards Center) this month. Dr. Glavovic has diverse research experience that complements Hazard Center work. His current work focuses on building sustainable communities able to weather severe storms and other hazards.

In specific, Dr. Glavovic specializes in:

  • Hazards, sustainability and community resilience
  • Coastal hazards
  • Collaborative planning and hazards
  • Hazards and poverty-environment linkages
  • Adapting to climate change

“My interest in natural hazard mitigation stems from my experience working in coastal communities in South Africa, the USA and New Zealand,” says Dr. Glavovic. “I have found that, despite the differences in culture, lifestyle, politics, etc., the imperative to build sustainable communities is widely recognized. But translating rhetoric into reality remains elusive. In this age of global change – including future climate change impacts – coastal communities are on the frontline of what I call ‘a battle for sustainability'”.
Dr. Glavovic worked extensively in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina, researching long-term recovery and measures to prevent future disaster.

While in the states, Dr. Glavovic will develop a joint research agenda with Dr. Gavin Smith, Hazards Center Executive Director. The research concerns disaster recovery, and includes the study of public and private projects, as well as work of non-profit and emerging organizations.
Regarding the protection of coastal zones from natural hazards, Dr. Glavovic says,

“Coastal communities the world over will have to develop innovative ways to become more robust, resilient and sustainable. We must transform thinking and practice with respect to, firstly, our relationship with nature. We need to move beyond the prevailing exploitive and destructive patterns of natural resource use. This would expose fewer people to natural hazards and we could benefit from nature’s ability to mitigate hazard impacts. For example, intact coastal ecosystems such as mangroves or wetlands can attenuate the impacts of coastal storms. Secondly, we need to learn to make social choices that reconcile individual and community needs. The pursuit of short term profit through high risk coastal property development exposes people and property to hazard impacts. Planning and community decision-making processes that foster such outcomes…put people in harm’s way. We need to learn to empower communities to make choices that are more inclusive, safer and sustainable. In short, we need to reform our governance arrangements to ensure more sustainable and resilient outcomes. Otherwise, coastal communities are going to experience horrendous impacts in coming decades.”