A framework for profiling the characteristics of risk governance in natural hazard contexts
Over recent decades there have been moves away from traditional forms of government towards broader practices of "governance". These moves are as relevant to the handling of natural hazards as they are to other societal concerns. Key characteristics of such changes include the emergence of multi-level governance processes, shifts away from the exercise of centralised authority towards the involvement and collaboration of a multiplicity of actors, the creation of new forms of authority and control, and changing distributions of responsibilities between the state and other actors. However, the extent to which these shifts have taken place across the varied national contexts in Europe and can be observed specifically in relation to the governance of natural hazards is not at all clear. Such developments may also be evaluated in different ways; where some might see progressive reforms, others might see damaging undermining of established arrangements.
In this paper, we propose a risk governance profiling framework that can be used to draw out the key characteristics of the ways in which natural hazards are governed in a particular governance setting. The framework can be flexibly applied in relation to a specific hazard and national, regional or local context, and enables qualitative profiling across a spectrum of eight key governance characteristics. Past trends and likely future changes can also be represented. We discuss the formulation of this framework as well as giving examples of profiles for different hazards in different parts of Europe. We suggest ways in which comparisons can be made between governance profiles, providing a stimulus and focus for debate and discussion around the trends of change in governance practice that have been, and are continuing, to take place.