Disasters as opportunities for sustainability: the case of Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand

Katja Brundiers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Disasters can catalyze change in different ways, among others: they allow reinforcing pre-disaster exploitation and inequities, enhancing disaster risk reduction policies, or introducing alternative pathways guided by sustainability. Only few studies have investigated the latter: how people were able to leverage disasters for change towards sustainability. This study deals with such people who were able to see, seize, and sustain opportunities for sustainability following a disaster. The study generated data through semi-structured interviews with sustainability change agents in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand, active during and after the major earthquakes period 2010–2012. The study finds that progress towards sustainability to date is mixed. While Christchurch was less successful in leveraging the immediate opportunities for sweeping change towards sustainability, the sustainability change agents continued to see, seize, and sustain post-disaster opportunities to move sustainability forward. The study derives advice on how to best leverage disasters for sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1091
Number of pages17
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Agency
  • Change
  • Christchurch
  • Disaster
  • Opportunity
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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