This session puts a paradoxical development at its centre: Despite a constant accumulation of knowledge about natural hazards, the damage and losses caused by natural hazards are not decreasing; on the contrary, for most hazards they are constantly increasing. Although hazard research aims to reduce the harmful consequences of natural hazards for more than 60 years, the empirical evidence shows that assuming a correlation between the generation/application of scientific knowledge and a reduction of damages is misleading.
This session aims at contributing to the entire chain of natural hazard risk management, from prediction and analysis through quantitative assessment and management to coping strategies including socio-economic and political decision-making. Thereby the paradox outlined above is addressed by concentrating on three aspects:
Firstly, the objective of this session is to discuss multi-disciplinary research on aspects of process identification and risk assessment, including results from specific projects. The focus will be on the interaction between social, natural and engineering science. Which strategies have been followed to stimulate the integration and collaboration of the involved disciplines? What clear benefits or drawbacks from the multi-disciplinary approach have been identified? How is cutting-edge research involved in the projects? Is there a feed-back loop from “lessons learnt” to research concepts and methods?
Secondly, the focus is on the interplay of (natural) scientific information, societal choices and decisions in natural hazard management. Generally, it is expected that scientific information is positively influencing efforts to prevent and avoid the occurrence of natural disasters. Yet this simple correlation is misleading. Population density in endangered areas may increase, citizens may develop a delusive “feeling of safety” in protected areas (dykes etc.) or decision makers may make their decision based on partial information. It seems that societal decisions involve a mixture of uncertainty about human behaviour. Human preference and cultural judgment seems to vary widely among decision makers.
Thirdly, along with technical, ecological, and aesthetical requirements, the consideration of economic aspects have become more and more important over the last years. Thus, economical valuation techniques such as cost-benefit-analysis are increasingly applied in order to optimise the allocation of financial resources for the mitigation of natural hazard risk. Furthermore, discussions on market solutions versus politically determined approaches had been raised, leading to innovative studies in the field of natural hazard risk management.
For this session we invite contributions both from the natural sciences and the social sciences. We invite presentations about the use and value of scientific information for decision making under uncertainty and any further topic related to science and political decision making that allows addressing the paradox of knowledge accumulation and increasing losses. From the economic point of view, contributions should address the valuation of technical, organisational and land use planning measures and their optimisation in the technical and/or economical sense; but also with respect to other factors such as e.g. policy.
We will hopefully get an insightful overview through research related to the topic of the session with the aim of an open-minded and far-reaching discussion.