Ebook: Building Safer Communities. Risk Governance, Spatial Planning and Responses to Natural Hazards
This book is a collection of essays, bringing together seventeen contributions from different disciplines, with various but complementary points of view, to discuss the directions and key components of risk governance. Some of the many issues of interest to risk scholars addressed in this work include: the analysis of proactive approaches to the governance of risk from natural hazards; approaches to broaden the scope of public policies related to the management of risks from natural hazards, including emergency and environmental management, community development and spatial planning. The texts further explore how spatial planning can contribute to risk governance by influencing the occupation of hazard-prone areas, and review the central role of emergency management in risk policy. This work will contribute significantly to the augmentation of the conceptual framework of risk governance and increase the awareness of practitioners and decision-makers to the need to adopt proactive policies, leading to a more integrated, participative, and adaptive governance that can respond more efficiently to the increasing uncertainty resulting from escalating risk exposure and global environmental change.
In the last decades, the study of natural hazards, disasters, and emergency planning has undergone a process of convergence and integration, shifting the focus from either a physical, human, or governance perspective to an integrated analysis; from studying single events to thinking in terms of systemic processes and complexity. Along with this convergence a fluent dialogue among researchers and practitioners has emerged, supporting the exchange of concepts, models, expertise, and tools. In the meantime, the efficiency of emergency planning and management has markedly improved and has become the most developed component of risk governance. The improvement of early warning systems, based on enhanced environmental monitoring and forecasting, has gradually been incorporated and is substantially dependent on new geospatial technologies which allow for highly accurate spatial and temporal coverage and resolution. Nonetheless, the persistent evidence of escalating material damage and sustained loss of life creates great public concern and a lack of confidence in these measures.
In the last few years this convergence of ideas and expertise from various disciplines has brought human dimensions to the forefront of the policy agenda of international organizations and governments, and vulnerability has become a key topic of scientific research. The study of global environmental change, and particularly climate change, has brought issues of adaptation and mitigation to public attention as suitable strategies for responding to the predicted effects of global risks. This new circumstance points to a change in the nature of risk governance towards a strengthening of preventive measures and an enhancement of efficiency.
This book addresses and analyzes proactive approaches to the governance of risk from natural hazards, recognizing them as the most suitable strategy in dealing with the set of pressing factors leading many populations to increase their risk exposure. Proactiveness does not imply that the role of emergency preparedness and disaster response be diminished, but does indicate instead a closer integration of these phases of risk management within the broader approach of risk governance. Disasters will, in one way or another, still occur. Decision makers respond to the social demand for safety with the development of civil protection systems, with a deeper analysis and monitoring of natural hazards that will help to enhance early warning and prediction. They begin to fail however, with risk communication, and hardly react at all with risk mitigation actions, since these imply a change of paradigm. Those measures with mid-term effects involving modification of the individual and collective behavior of large human groups, and whose effectiveness depends on cooperation rather than on command and control approaches, or on the implementation of technologies, are rarely preferred. Governments, both in developed and developing countries, favour short-term policies which mask other priorities only recognized too late, as they are dependent on inconspicuous decisions made by citizens day after day.
This book brings together seventeen contributions from different disciplines, with various but complementary points of view, to discuss the directions and key components of risk governance. It explores the various approaches envisaged to broaden the scope of the distinct and rather separate public policies related to the management of risks from natural hazards, including emergency management, environmental management, community development, and spatial planning. This allows for an exploration of the effective integration of the social, economic, and environmental dimensions towards an efficient implementation of sustainable development. The book looks to a convergence in a form of multilevel, integrated, participative, and adaptive governance that may efficiently respond to the increasing uncertainty brought about by escalating risk exposure and global environmental change.
The text explores how spatial planning, as an existing comprehensive policy instrument, may contribute to risk governance with its strong capacity to influence the occupation of hazard-prone areas and the avoidance of risk accumulation. Comprising both urban and regional planning, it focuses on the regulation of land use, looking to the future while taking into account present needs, demand for natural resources and existing, limiting physical factors. Spatial planning has the potential to integrate mitigation, adaptation, and vulnerability reduction measures into the framework of socio-ecological systems. But this is not sufficient. A stronger cooperation between all levels of administration, enhanced public participation, and the transfer of knowledge from experts to lay people will all facilitate an increase in capacity, awareness, and empowerment of individuals and organizations.
This collection of essays reviews the central role of emergency management in risk policy, and the progression from the cycle of disaster to concepts such as social-ecological systems, vulnerability, resilience, mitigation, and adaptation, thereby supporting a conceptual shift towards a more holistic vision. The book seeks to contribute to the augmentation of the conceptual framework of risk governance and to increase the awareness of practitioners and decision-makers in adopting proactive policies. It is concerned with the advancement of a systemic and conceptually integrated perspective of risk policy and presents many issues of interest to risk scholars. Questions yet to be resolved include whether risk management can be integrated into spatial planning or whether other planning approaches should be explored.
Urbano Fra Paleo, University of Santiago de Compostela
Knowledge about the causes and consequences of hazards is increasing, but losses continue to rise dramatically. We examine the major benefits of land use planning when applied to hazard mitigation, and then discuss why vulnerable communities fail to enact effective planning programs to prevent hazard-induced losses. We then present five sets of choices that communities can make to advance planning for mitigation with the ultimate goal of disaster resiliency.
In this chapter we compare and evaluate two systems of governance for planning and managing urban development in areas at risk from natural hazards. Command-and-control systems feature a high degree of prescription and coercion by higher-level governments to put in place local planning processes that emphasize technical rationality in identifying and overcoming barriers to mitigation. Cooperative systems feature a high degree of flexibility and use of incentives by higher-level governments to put in place local planning processes that emphasize communicative rationality by increasing community understanding of and political support for safe development patterns and building standards. Our empirical analysis of planning systems in the United States and Australia finds merit in aspects of each system. We conclude that hybrid central government mandates are needed to harness the ability of command-and-control policy designs to bring about local government participation in hazard mitigation planning with the ability of cooperative designs to build community understanding of problems and support for their solution.
Risk management requires integrating scientific and political processes to respond to public concerns legitimately and practically. Fostering public participation is easier to preach than to espouse. This chapter clarifies key elements of public participation—dialogue, debate, and negotiation—to help citizens and officials improve future participatory processes in settings demanding effective and responsive risk management.
The mitigation of natural hazards requires an understanding of how risk is distributed, both geographically and socially. Fundamental to this is the notion that aspects of risk are socially constructed, and therefore this paper explores the subject from both data and conceptual perspectives. These risk patterns evolve over time due to the changing structure of social-economic, demographic and constructed systems, and also due to changes in the physical environment. Risk must therefore be viewed as a constantly changing dynamic system. A review of the literature suggests that risk is increasing in some very significant ways, and that mitigation strategies should pay close attention to those trends if they are to be effective.
Escalating human and material losses produced by natural hazards point to a failure not only in risk governance but also to a lack of success in human adaptation to environmental conditions. The effort made in developing our system of response to disasters has diverted attention away from the root causes of risk. This paper examines the nature and drivers of risk exposure in order to develop a framework for analysis and to achieve more effective governance. Risk transference between agents and historical exposure, the satisfaction of basic needs and economic wants, and poor risk knowledge have been identified as key drivers. The concept of exposure challenges the complementary notion of vulnerability elaborated by scholars and practitioners from various disciplines. In this context, exposure implies a potential for loss, while vulnerability implies the potential for differential loss.
The precautionary principle can require regulatory action in cases of potential environmental damage, even before conclusive scientific proof of harm has become available. Critics charge that this inherently puts the principle at odds with rational risk management, which should be based on sound science and cost-benefit analysis. This chapter clarifies the significance of the precautionary principle by answering a variety of criticisms. The precautionary principle is not anti-science; it calls for more and wider scientific investigation of poorly understood environmental phenomena. It does not oppose hazard assessments done by experts, but it does make experts answerable to a broader public. Yet the deliberative turn in implementing the precautionary principle does not expose it to charges of populism. By using standards such as proportionality and revisability, the precautionary principle promotes reasoned policy-making in cases where risks are insufficiently understood. Finally, precaution is not to be equated with prohibition. Precautionary measures include anticipatory actions such as intensified monitoring, increased safety margins, systematic labeling, and spatial planning that creates protected zones for certain activities. The complexity of precautionary action is a reflection of the complexity of our societies and of the links they create with nature.
This chapter stresses the importance of addressing urban issues within the framework of regional and global biophysical systems (climate change). Considering urban growth only as the outcome of local forces creates an incomplete perspective of complex realities. The chapter focuses on the vulnerability and adaptation of urban areas to the potential impacts of climate change in poor countries and emerging economies and explores a role of urban planning in building adaptation strategies. It also highlights the need of new multidimensional approaches orienting urban growth and the responses to climate change. Many of the actions needed to reduce social and urban vulnerability and enhance adaptation to climate change strongly relate to current development pressures in urban areas. Efforts in this direction can make a difference in the livelihood of millions of present and future urban inhabitants.
The Netherlands is vulnerable to flooding by the sea and major European rivers. Climate change, socio-economic developments in low-lying areas and continuing land subsidence have significantly increased the risk of flooding. Real problems are expected to arise if the sea level rises to such an extent that river water can no longer discharge into sea, leading to safety risks in large areas of the country. The flood protection policies for the rivers being developed by the Dutch government have recently shown a shift from building ever higher and stronger dikes towards nature development (habitat creation and repair) and giving rivers more space (the Room for the River programme), since a more natural river system is regarded as the best protection against climate change. The implementation of this major transformation in the area along and between the major Dutch rivers requires many different public authorities and private stakeholders to cooperate in such a way that their different values, beliefs, needs and interests merge into coordinated action. Attempts to realize the high policy ambitions for the area along the rivers have led to a regional, multi-stakeholder initiative. The underlying philosophy of this approach is governance, that is, coordinated action by actors representing the government, the business community and civil society to cope with complex societal problems. A Dutch project in the river basin of the Rhine – called Gelderse Poort – is used here as a case study to show what governance with respect to climate adaptation policies might mean in practice. The chapter also shows the impact of unexpected events such as extremely high water levels in rivers on ongoing planning and policy processes.
The problem which often lays over the disaster management practices is that social and community dimension of disasters are badly identified and assessed. This article discusses this problem and offers social impact assessment (SIA) as a tool for the uses of environmental disaster management. Here, the main questions concern the following: How can we understand and anticipate the consequences of environmental disasters and changes in the social and community level? What are suitable analytical concepts and methods for social impact assessment? This article introduces the concepts of social vulnerability, social resilience and community adaptation as central concepts in understanding the social nature of disaster. In addition, the article describes the kind of assessment experiences we have in this field.
Predicting singular/extremal phenomena exceeding certain spatial, temporal, or energetic scales remains as a main scientific and practical challenge. The question is: does modern geophysics - based on recent progress in theories of complex systems and nonlinear dynamics - provide useful scientific insights to mechanisms underlying disastrous extreme events? The question is of primary importance, because providing more reliable disaster prediction methodologies is closely tied with scientific understanding of the hazardous process. From the point of view of dynamics, hazardous natural phenomena such as earthquakes, floods, or landslides are recognized as complex and high-dimensional processes. For such randomlike processes with no (or weak) inherent determinism, there are major, perhaps fundamental, difficulties in creating a comprehensiv physical/mathematical theory to describe and predict their evolution in spatial, temporal or energetic domains. At the same time, the weakness of deterministic relations in high dimensional processes does not imply an absence of order in governing rules. This is why for complex natural systems very large deviations from the mean (catastrophic extreme events) are not negligible and originate from system's inherent rules, not from chance. The most important features of complex systems are their ability to self-organize and the fractal distributions. For commonly limited natural scales it reveals itself in the form of memory or long-range dependence. According to the present understanding almost all important natural hazards are associated with such memory, scale invariant, close-to-critical state models, e.g. landslides with the sand-pile model, earthquakes with the slider-block model, and forest fires with the forest-fire model. In spite of present difficulties related to the correct dynamical analysis of complex systems, it is accepted that predictability of natural disasters can be considered as a well-posed task. Thus, developing dynamical methods together with quantitative models needed to evaluate probabilistic hazard assessment is within our reach. This will require a combined effort of earth scientists, physicists, statisticians, and practitioners. In this chapter we present a short review of dynamics and predictability of complex processes as well as some results of seismic hazard assessment in Georgia.
This chapter examines the theoretical and practical bases of emergency planning (including disaster, crisis and contingency planning). A distinction is drawn between permanent plans (which, however, should be living documents) and contingency planning during emergency situations. Planning is considered more as a process than an end product. The relationship between plans, procedures and protocols is described. The chapter discusses the use of scenarios as a basis for planning emergency responses. Emphasis is given to the exploration of reference scenarios of known hazards in terms of what how they relate to emergency response needs. Next, the phases of emergency planning are described, with particular attention to how they can be implemented in a socially inclusive way. After this, the chapter discusses the integration and standardisation of plans around the local authority level, which in many cases is the reference level for planning activities. The discussion is extended to the role of disaster planning at the community level. The chapter concludes by considering the fields of ignorance and potential for unforeseen change in threats and hazards. It ends with a brief, synthetic summary of the emergency planning process.
Recovery is a long-term decision process in the face of rapid change, involving many individual actors and organizations making decisions about rebuilding, planning, and financing. Communities must make rapid decisions about physical reconstruction and economic development, while at the same time making critical decisions regarding management and financing, all under great time pressure. It is tempting to think of a disaster-affected community as a “blank slate” upon which a new, improved, disaster-resistant community can arise, under the guidance of rational planning. In fact, actual post-disaster situations are much more complex, and, although some forces facilitate the opportunity for positive change, there are at least an equal number of countervailing forces resisting such change. Significant change is difficult to achieve, because the political and administrative environments resist it, and because the historic evolution of the city reflects the deep-seated desires of its inhabitants. Still, physical changes do occur—usually in limited parts of a city—and they sometimes are able to bring about social and economic improvements. The challenge for planners is to learn how to maximize the limited opportunity for positive post-disaster change. This paper briefly summarizes some of the complexities of the post-disaster decision environment and suggests some ways to maximize positive change following disasters.
Climate change and other challenges force cities to reconsider their governance structure. Are they ready to deal with the consequences of flooding, more rain or sea level rise? After presenting one approach to dealing with such urban issues in an integrated way, a classification of risks is presented, focusing in particular on what that means for Third World cities. Current governance structures are often not able to deal with these challenges, which require reform and appropriate decision making structures. Some proposals are made for such structures. The issue is illustrated for China and Ghana. In the latter case the strategic directions for integrated urban water management are developed in cooperation with a group of concerned local experts.
Spatial planning is often considered as an important tool to address the challenges related to natural hazards. European spatial development policy initiatives are also further developed in this respect. The achievements made by policymakers and researchers and their applicability in European spatial development are discussed; in particular the efforts made in the framework of the ESPON Programme. Finally a brief assessment of the achievements and the challenges give an indication of the extent to which it seems feasible to use European spatial development policy initiatives to address natural hazards and climate change impacts.
The French risk management system gives equal importance on the front end (pre-disaster) and on the back end (post-disaster). It is based on the idea that effectiveness, needs appraisal of social, economic, and environment risk acceptability. If a disaster is neither natural nor industrial from this point of view; it always is a human disaster insofar as it results from some amount of deliberate risk exposure. Therefore risk management is more a political than a technical issue, which means that citizen participation, NGOs and private initiatives are crucial to formulate risk and disaster policies.
Continued development of coastal communities results in an increase in the number of people and assets exposed to catastrophic coastal hazards. Traditionally, the vulnerability of coastal communities has been measured either on a micro (community) or a macro (regional) scale. We present research that suggests coastal vulnerability assessments need to be conducted in a multi-scalar manner to more accurately assess many of the components that contribute to vulnerability. This chapter employs a case study of Sarasota County, Florida, using GIS intensively in conjunction with an extended version of a vulnerability framework developed by Füssel (2007) to consider traditional components of vulnerability at both the micro and macro scales. This fusion of GIS and vulnerability analysis is accomplished through the theoretical concept of geospatially dependent vulnerability in which vulnerability is measured at multiple geographic scales to provide a vulnerability analysis that is sufficiently robust to aid communities in hazard mitigation and resilience enhancement.
Recent advances in geospatial technologies, including InSAR and LiDAR, are improving our ability to reduce the potentially disastrous consequences of natural hazards. While some physical limits ultimately constrain what information on surface and subsurface conditions can be obtained from remote sensors, technological advances continue to improve quality, quantity, and diversity of remote sensing data. This chapter provides several examples of remote sensing technologies that could be used to anticipate and monitor hazards from volcanoes, earthquakes, and landslides. We then briefly examine emerging trends in remote sensing in the next decade, such as the global availability of these data, existing and planned major international collaborations and data-sharing partnerships, and data interpretation and dissemination.