Framework for managing natural hazards

A complex framework of international, national, regional and local regulatory and non-regulatory requirements and tools apply to the management of natural hazard risks. This provides the legal foundation for building sustainable, hazard-resilient communities and the toolbox to implement any response to avoid and mitigate hazard risks and adapt to the exacerbation of these risks due to climate change.

Here's a diagram that shows the framework to manage natural hazard risk and climate change.


International programmes

International programmes, research, agreements and guidance highlight the importance of natural hazard risk reduction and adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

New Zealand’s role as a signatory of international agreements provides an obligation to collectively contribute towards achieving the outcomes sought. This may lead to or influence national legislation and guidance. Relevant international programmes include:

  • The Sendai Framework, under the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), sets out seven targets and four priorities for action including investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience. In committing to the Sendai Framework, the New Zealand government is reviewing the National Civil Defence and Emergency Management Strategy to align with the four priority areas of the Sendai Framework, and giving more weight to a risk-based approach in planning processes with recent changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).


  • The Paris Agreement was signed by 175 countries (including New Zealand) at the end of 2015. It recognises that climate change is an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human society and the planet, and requires both mitigation and adaptation. In response to the Paris Agreement, the New Zealand government has established a programme of work to transition to a low-emission and climate-resilient future including a proposal for new legislation, the Zero Carbon Bill.


  • New Zealand is a participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which provides a scientific view on the current knowledge on climate change, its potential impacts, and guidance on adaptation and mitigation. The fifth assessment report 2015 (5AR) has been used to inform recent national guidance on climate change and coastal hazards. The sixth assessment is scheduled for release in 2021.


  • ISO 31000 2009 is the international standard setting out principles and guidelines for risk management processes. It is used to inform and guide risk-based planning approaches, including the definition of risk in the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.

Here's a diagram that shows the relationship between national, regional and district legislation and policy relating to natural hazard management.


Management framework

The international programmes New Zealand has committed to sets the context for national policy and direction for managing natural hazards and adapting to climate change, which councils then implement. In addition, there are some overarching legislative responsibilities and requirements which councils (both regional and city) must comply with.

One way of looking at these responsibilities is how and when local government uses various national policies and legislation. More than one piece of legislation or national policy can apply when local government is undertaking its role or function. Read more


How are we currently managing natural hazard risk

The Christchurch City Council is responsible for managing the effects of land use and subdivision activities, issuing building consents, communicating hazard risk, planning, delivering and maintaining infrastructure, and participating in regional civil defence groups.

Environment Canterbury (the regional council) provides direction for managing hazards through the regional policy statement. It also co-ordinates and oversees the management of natural hazards through the Regional Canterbury Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group , the regional approach to managing natural hazard risk and the Greater Christchurch Partnership . Environment Canterbury manages activities in the coastal marine area (CMA).

There are many pieces of overlapping and interacting legislation that govern drainage and flood protection within the region and the district. Both the regional and city council are able to undertake drainage and flood protection works. Simplistically, Environment Canterbury manages river control and drainage schemes across the region, such as the Waimakariri stopbanks. While Christchurch City Council generally looks after drainage and floodplain management within urban Christchurch. Read more

A complex framework of international, national, regional and local regulatory and non-regulatory requirements and tools apply to the management of natural hazard risks. This provides the legal foundation for building sustainable, hazard-resilient communities and the toolbox to implement any response to avoid and mitigate hazard risks and adapt to the exacerbation of these risks due to climate change.

Here's a diagram that shows the framework to manage natural hazard risk and climate change.


International programmes

International programmes, research, agreements and guidance highlight the importance of natural hazard risk reduction and adaptation and mitigation to climate change.

New Zealand’s role as a signatory of international agreements provides an obligation to collectively contribute towards achieving the outcomes sought. This may lead to or influence national legislation and guidance. Relevant international programmes include:

  • The Sendai Framework, under the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), sets out seven targets and four priorities for action including investing in disaster risk reduction for resilience. In committing to the Sendai Framework, the New Zealand government is reviewing the National Civil Defence and Emergency Management Strategy to align with the four priority areas of the Sendai Framework, and giving more weight to a risk-based approach in planning processes with recent changes to the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).


  • The Paris Agreement was signed by 175 countries (including New Zealand) at the end of 2015. It recognises that climate change is an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human society and the planet, and requires both mitigation and adaptation. In response to the Paris Agreement, the New Zealand government has established a programme of work to transition to a low-emission and climate-resilient future including a proposal for new legislation, the Zero Carbon Bill.


  • New Zealand is a participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which provides a scientific view on the current knowledge on climate change, its potential impacts, and guidance on adaptation and mitigation. The fifth assessment report 2015 (5AR) has been used to inform recent national guidance on climate change and coastal hazards. The sixth assessment is scheduled for release in 2021.


  • ISO 31000 2009 is the international standard setting out principles and guidelines for risk management processes. It is used to inform and guide risk-based planning approaches, including the definition of risk in the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.

Here's a diagram that shows the relationship between national, regional and district legislation and policy relating to natural hazard management.


Management framework

The international programmes New Zealand has committed to sets the context for national policy and direction for managing natural hazards and adapting to climate change, which councils then implement. In addition, there are some overarching legislative responsibilities and requirements which councils (both regional and city) must comply with.

One way of looking at these responsibilities is how and when local government uses various national policies and legislation. More than one piece of legislation or national policy can apply when local government is undertaking its role or function. Read more


How are we currently managing natural hazard risk

The Christchurch City Council is responsible for managing the effects of land use and subdivision activities, issuing building consents, communicating hazard risk, planning, delivering and maintaining infrastructure, and participating in regional civil defence groups.

Environment Canterbury (the regional council) provides direction for managing hazards through the regional policy statement. It also co-ordinates and oversees the management of natural hazards through the Regional Canterbury Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group , the regional approach to managing natural hazard risk and the Greater Christchurch Partnership . Environment Canterbury manages activities in the coastal marine area (CMA).

There are many pieces of overlapping and interacting legislation that govern drainage and flood protection within the region and the district. Both the regional and city council are able to undertake drainage and flood protection works. Simplistically, Environment Canterbury manages river control and drainage schemes across the region, such as the Waimakariri stopbanks. While Christchurch City Council generally looks after drainage and floodplain management within urban Christchurch. Read more