Insurance Council welcomes commissioner’s report on sea level rise

The Insurance Council of New Zealand has welcomed the Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright’s report on sea-level rise.

“As an island nation with one of the world’s longest coastlines, New Zealand has every reason to be taking the risk of sea-level rise seriously. This report is an important contribution to the debate and policy work essential to better protect our country from flooding, erosion and adverse impacts on our water tables,” the chief executive of ICNZ, Tim Grafton, said.

“Analysis shows the replacement costs of assets located between 50 and 150 cm from mean high tide levels is between $3 billion and $20 billion. Those are huge replacement costs representing thousands of houses and businesses. Dr Wright’s report makes timely and useful recommendations ranging from better quality guidance on managing the risks to assessing and preparing for the economic impacts of sea level rise,” he said.

“However, a critical issue that is not covered in the report is the quality and capability of underground infrastructure like stormwater drains. Many of these are decades old, designed to specifications long before anyone was aware of sea-level rise combined with climate change which will bring more intense storm and storm surge event.”

“Numerous studies all clearly demonstrate that for every dollar invested in well managed risk reduction saves many more dollars in post-disaster costs as well as minimising the social impact.”

“ICNZ released a 15-point plan on how to better protect New Zealand from natural hazards 12 months ago. Dr Wright’s report makes a valuable contribution around advancing the debate on several of the points in this plan.”

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