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Boosting Disaster Prevention through Innovative Risk Governance

Insights from Austria, France and Switzerland

image of Boosting Disaster Prevention through Innovative Risk Governance

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.

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