Disaster risks are complex and are influenced by many impact dimensions. While they cannot be eliminated entirely, a better understanding of risk enables informed risk management decisions. Great progress has been made in all major risk areas in recent years. Risk assessments and risk models per se cannot make decisions, but they provide a solid basis for doing so. Developing a culture of risk awareness and promoting risk understanding ultimately benefits society. This also includes an understanding of the processes of risk assessment, the modeling of possible scenarios and the establishment of understandable risk communication.
All of this makes a society more resilient and adaptable and contributes to saving lives and property. In Europe there is a science-based approach to crisis and disaster management on which a rich source of information and data has been built. Current databases on damage and losses from natural hazards are to be further standardized and expanded in order to support the formation of evidence in the assessment of risks. Another challenge is to use local data and information to address small-scale specifics of the vulnerability. This requires the integration of additional knowledge that can only be recorded and evaluated through interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary cooperation.
Risk assessments usually focus only on possible damage and ignore other than technical and scientific assessment dimensions. Vulnerabilities are not adequately taken into account, nor are formal framework conditions (procedures, laws and regulations) and informal influencing factors (values, norms and traditions). However, these often play a fundamental role, as they have a major impact on the risk tolerance and resilience of a society, both in a positive and in a negative sense. The future challenges therefore consist of improving the knowledge base for a holistic risk assessment and enabling practical decisions on risk treatment.
Univ.-Prof. Dr. oec. publ.
Professur für Versicherungswirtschaft
Institut für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung