From localised incidents like the recent harbour bridge damage and the 2017 Auckland fuel crisis, to the coronavirus pandemic and the future impacts of climate change, we repeatedly fail to prepare for foreseeable but rare, high-impact events. Why is this? 

Cognitive biases, imperfect rationality, and the complex interface between politics, policymaking, expert judgement and public sentiment mean that deciding how to prepare for events that may happen in the future is anything but straightforward. 

This talk will discuss risk assessment and perception at multiple levels and explore the challenges and possibilities for improving our resilience to future inevitabilities in the face of uncertainty about not if, but when, bad things will happen.


Dr Anne Bardsley is the Deputy Director of Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures, an independant and apolitical think-tank and research centre at the University.

Dr Bardsley’s expertise is in evidence synthesis and knowledge brokerage at the science-policy interface. She was previously a Senior Analyst in the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. In 2019 she chaired the expert panel that developed the framework for Aotearoa’s first the National Climate Change Risk Assessment. 

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Last updated: 24 March 2021