OECD Reviews of Risk Management Policies

1993-4106 (online)
1993-4092 (print)
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This series presents a series of books examining the management of risk by governments in such areas as natural disasters, climate change, information security, nuclear energy, biotechnology and financial services.
Boosting Disaster Prevention through Innovative Risk Governance

Boosting Disaster Prevention through Innovative Risk Governance

Insights from Austria, France and Switzerland You do not have access to this content

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19 Dec 2017
9789264281370 (PDF) ;9789264281363(print)

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In 2014 the OECD carried out work to take stock of OECD countries' achievements in building resilience to major natural and man-made disasters. The report suggested that albeit significant achievements were made through effective risk prevention and mitigation management, past disasters have revealed persistent vulnerabilities and gaps in risk prevention management across OECD. Based on the findings of this OECD-wide report a cross-country comparative study was undertaken in Austria, France and Switzerland to test the recommendations put forward in specific country contexts. This report summarises the individual and comparative country case study findings. It highlights that the risk prevention policy mix has shifted in favor of organisational measures such as hazard informed land use planning or strengthening the enforcement of risk sensitive regulations. In the meantime, the great need for maintaining the large stock of structural protection measures has been overlooked and vulnerability might increase because of that. The report highlights the need for better policy evaluation to increase the effectiveness of risk prevention measures in the future. The report highlights practices where countries succeeded to make risk prevention a responsibility of the whole of government and the whole of society, by analysing supporting governance and financing arrangements.

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  • Foreword and acknowledgements

    Natural and human-induced disasters have disruptive impacts on societies and economies, especially at the local level. Repeated episodes of flooding can create significant economic stress, especially when countries’ major urban areas are affected. Wildfires have proven challenging to contain in countries as diverse as Australia, Greece, France, Portugal, the US and Canada. Longer dry periods followed by extreme precipitation, such as California recently experienced, challenge governments' risk prevention capacities in many regions. Above all, disasters, such as the major earthquakes in Japan, New Zealand, Italy or Chile can probe countries’ risk management abilities and create significant challenges for crafting appropriate prevention policy responses.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    Countries have made significant progress in strengthening resilience to disasters and crises through prevention and mitigation, including an increased understanding of how critical risks can be managed. However, vulnerabilities persist in an ever-changing environment that creates gaps in countries’ disaster risk prevention efforts. Existing protective infrastructure may no longer offer the level of protection for which the investments were initially made, due to inadequate maintenance. Regulatory frameworks may not keep pace with the changing risk environments, and enforcement tends to be inconsistent. Despite widespread recognition of the importance of whole-of-society efforts for improving resilience, implementing such broad initiatives requires significant energy and the capacity to mobilise a range of actors.

  • Lessons from a cross country study

    Despite the achievements of OECD countries to boost resilience to disasters, gaps in disaster risk reduction efforts continue to accentuate their social and economic vulnerabilities to such extreme events. This chapter provides an overview of the findings of a cross-country study of Austria, France, and Switzerland carried out to assess and compare progress and achievements in closing resilience gaps. It looks at how countries have ensured an appropriate policy mix between structural and non-structural measures to effectively reduce disaster risks. It highlights the increasing attention given to nonstructural measures, and discusses the challenges associated with the maintenance of protective infrastructure and the associated increases to exposure. The chapter discusses how countries have strengthened organisational efforts to manage disaster risks, even if such measures have not always achieved the desired outcomes. To conclude, the chapter looks at how governance and financing arrangements could help boost the effectiveness of the proposed organisational measures.

  • Boosting resilience through innovative risk governance: the case of Alpine areas in Austria

    This chapter summarises the country case study findings of boosting resilience through innovative risk governance in Austria. After an overview over the prevalence of natural hazards, focusing on Austria’s Alpine regions, and the past social and economic costs of disasters, the chapter documents Austria’s progress in establishing resilience against major disasters through disaster risk prevention and mitigation measures. The chapter illustrates Austria’s long-standing tradition in dealing with natural hazards and shows how responsibilities are shared across government sectors and levels. It also highlights the effective integration of citizens and communities in risk disaster risk management, from assessing hazards to financing disaster risk prevention. The chapter puts forward recommendations to confront future prevention challenges, such as meeting continuously increasing demand for new protection measures and the growing need to invest in the maintenance of existing infrastructure to sustain the intended protection levels.

  • Boosting resilience through innovative risk governance: the case of the Rhône river in France

    This chapter summarises France’s progress in bolstering resilience against natural disasters through innovative risk governance across the Rhône River Basin. Due to the basin’s large size, natural hazards include river and coastal floods, but also torrents, storms and earthquakes. The chapter shows that a major Rhône flood is considered a critical risk for France, given the basin’s size and economic importance. The chapter explains that recent floods have sparked a number of disaster risk prevention reforms, emphasising the need for a basin-wide approach, as well as giving local communities an important role in engaging in local risk management. It is shown that during reform processes it is key to dedicate adequate financial and technical competences to those with new disaster risk prevention responsibilities. Finally, the chapter emphasises the large untapped potential of a whole-of-society approach to risk management, where clear roles are assigned and risks are effectively communicated to all stakeholders.

  • Boosting resilience through innovative risk governance: the case of Switzerland

    This chapter summarises the country case study findings of boosting resilience through innovative risk governance in Switzerland. After providing an overview of the various natural hazards and their relatively high socio-economic impact across Switzerland, the chapter showcases Switzerland’s progress and good practices in disaster risk reduction. The chapter illustrates how Switzerland has developed a forward-looking approach to risk management that is firmly centred on the philosophy that successful risk management requires strong whole-of-society engagement and solid stakeholder coordination mechanisms. Despite the exemplary practices in ensuring multi-stakeholder participation in disaster risk management, the chapter found room to further increase risk awareness for current and future risks to enable continued shared risk financing and successful implementation of the well-developed regulations. Finally, the chapter puts forward recommendations to confront future disaster risk prevention challenges, such as maintaining the stock of protective infrastructure, while ensuring sufficient funding for new investments.

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