The Role of Risk Communication in Risk Governance: from Research to Practice
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Presentation at: International Mountain Conference ; Innsbruck : 8.9.2019 - 12.9.2019 ; Risk communication represents an essential element of integrated risk management. It has the potential to increase the resilience of society, in particular with regard to currently emerging challenges triggered by changing climate and societal conditions. Risk communication may address various relevant aspects of risk management such as to inform about natural hazards, to generate acceptance for and awareness of existing protection measures and remaining risks, to build trust between stakeholders, and to support the development of a risk-competent society. Many authors of scientific literature point out that there is no universal strategy for risk communication but that it needs to be tailored to specific target groups. This leads to the challenge of transferring knowledge and good practices within diverse socio-economic contexts. In order for risk communication to be efficient, it is important to consider the information needs of the target group(s) and to select most suitable instruments and channels to reach them. Furthermore, the literature reveals that risk communication is closely interwoven with the behavior and the degree of implementation concerning individual precautionary measures. A better understanding of these behaviors offers opportunities to develop target group oriented and renewed risk communication strategies. In particular, ‘peaceful’ periods in the absence of hazardous events provide opportunities to implement a variety of communication measures and participatory interventions to reduce the citizens’ vulnerability in general and improve their preparation for the case of emergency. This contribution helps to answer the workshop’s guiding questions by sharing results obtained through literature review, expert interviews and citizen surveys within research studies analysing risk communication and perception in Alpine communities. Our results underline the importance of a well-working risk dialogue between institutions and citizens and deliver concrete recommendations for the development and implementation of innovative communication tools.
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