During a volcanic event, Taranaki regional economy will potentially face long-term disruptions of infrastructure networks (electricity, gas and water) as well as the transport sector, with road inaccessible and isolated areas within the region. Businesses will be impacted and may not be able to operate. For some, relocation, either temporary or permanent, will be necessary. The impacts on the agriculture sector could also be significant, and in some situations the threat to animal welfare will be a serious concern. Importantly, a Taranaki volcanic event also has potential to create economic repercussions felt far beyond the Taranaki region, particularly through wider infrastructure disruptions, connections between economic sectors, the need to support and relocate people and business, and the provision of resources for rebuild and recovery.
To best protect the functioning of Aotearoa-NZ’s socio-economic system, we require science to support decision-making for the sectors that are most likely to be critically disrupted. Additionally, it is paramount to understand how the wider community may change, including enabling, incentivising or restricting behaviours, and the collection and distribution of resources to support those in need. Robust decision-support tools require a ‘whole-of-system’ understanding of the pathways through which physical impacts of an unfolding volcanic event, and resulting human responses, will instigate important impacts for people and communities.
Our research focus is on the development of an agile, multiscale and temporal socio-economic modelling toolkit to support decision-makers in building resilience, pre, during and post Taranaki volcanic events. The toolkit will develop in collaboration with local and government agencies, infrastructure/lifeline agencies, and iwi organizations.
Our toolkit utilizes graphical methods and systems-thinking approaches, and draws in knowledge and methods across multiple disciplines, to holistically map-out the cause-effect chains from geological unrest through to impacts on people. We also employ a wellbeing perspective, with the aim to consider consequences across the many different dimensions that contribute to individual and collective wellbeing. We will extend geological hazard and resilience research, by drawing on and extending emerging methods for decision-making under uncertaintly that have become popular in the climate change space. With assistance from the wider research team, we seek appropriate and robust ways to communicate uncertainty, as well as incorporate new and emerging volcanic and hazard knowledge as it emerges, to reduce uncertainty for decision makers.
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