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Incorporating Risk Communication into Flood Resilience Planning: Challenges and Solutions in Belfast

Virtanen, Katriina LU (2019) VBRM15 20191
Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety
Abstract
Risk communication, the flow of information between decision-makers, risk experts and the public, can be a valuable tool in societal resilience building. Risk communication can be used both to inform the resilience planning process as well as to directly build resilience at all societal scales. The city of Belfast is currently developing a resilience strategy that addresses flooding in the city as well as other environmental, social and economic risks. Using complexity theory as an analytical tool, the thesis uses a scoping study to identify occurring and recommended types of risk communication in other urban, developed contexts and the challenges to implementing risk communication. These findings are then applied to the Belfast case and... (More)
Risk communication, the flow of information between decision-makers, risk experts and the public, can be a valuable tool in societal resilience building. Risk communication can be used both to inform the resilience planning process as well as to directly build resilience at all societal scales. The city of Belfast is currently developing a resilience strategy that addresses flooding in the city as well as other environmental, social and economic risks. Using complexity theory as an analytical tool, the thesis uses a scoping study to identify occurring and recommended types of risk communication in other urban, developed contexts and the challenges to implementing risk communication. These findings are then applied to the Belfast case and based on a document analysis, the risk communication occurring in Belfast and likely challenges are analysed. The findings of the thesis include the fact that both the scoping study findings and the Belfast documents recommend high engagement of the public in risk communication. Despite this, the majority of risk communication in Belfast involves the public in a contributing or feedback-giving role rather than as a leader in the process. Many, if not all, of the challenges to risk communication identified in the scoping study could be expected to arise in Belfast and most are already addressed in some way in the planning process. The thesis also explores the relevance of the specific context in which the risk communication takes place and concludes that although learnings from other cities should be recognised, the challenges posed by Belfast’s history make it a particularly challenging context for risk communication. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Climate change is impacting the hazards cities will face in the future. This means that the ways in which these hazards are countered and the ways in which the public is engaged in the process will need to adapt. This is the case also for the city of Belfast, where flood risk will likely be exacerbated by climate change. The city is exploring ways in which to use risk communication to understand the public’s priorities and views and incorporate them into its resilience strategy. Belfast’s resilience strategy will address flood risk as well as other factors influencing the city’s resilience. This thesis explores how the concept of risk communication for resilience is addressed in scientific literature and what the related challenges and... (More)
Climate change is impacting the hazards cities will face in the future. This means that the ways in which these hazards are countered and the ways in which the public is engaged in the process will need to adapt. This is the case also for the city of Belfast, where flood risk will likely be exacerbated by climate change. The city is exploring ways in which to use risk communication to understand the public’s priorities and views and incorporate them into its resilience strategy. Belfast’s resilience strategy will address flood risk as well as other factors influencing the city’s resilience. This thesis explores how the concept of risk communication for resilience is addressed in scientific literature and what the related challenges and recommendations are. It will then apply this knowledge to the case of Belfast and analyses how risk communication is and could be used in the city to contribute to resilience building efforts.

The thesis uses a scoping study to identify what is known in literature about the connection between risk communication and resilience. The findings indicate that risk communication for resilience most often takes the form of one-way risk communication which aims to inform the public rather than work with them to create solutions. This contradicts the recommendations from literature, which are for co-creation where the public and the authorities have equal power over the process. The scoping study also identified challenges to using risk communication for resilience, namely differing understandings of key concepts, power imbalances, a lack of commitment and issues to do with trust.

The state of risk communication and resilience in Belfast was analysed using a document analysis. In Belfast, the majority of risk communication asks the public to contribute with their views and feedback rather than simply using risk communication to inform residents. However, the city could do more to truly create solutions in partnership. The city is likely to face the challenges identified in the scoping study, which may be exacerbated by the context of the city. Many of the challenges are already acknowledged however and addressed in the plans. (Less)
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author
Virtanen, Katriina LU
supervisor
organization
course
VBRM15 20191
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Risk communication, Participation, Resilience, Flooding, Complexity, Belfast.
language
English
id
8996269
date added to LUP
2019-10-18 13:40:42
date last changed
2019-10-18 13:40:42
@misc{8996269,
  abstract     = {Risk communication, the flow of information between decision-makers, risk experts and the public, can be a valuable tool in societal resilience building. Risk communication can be used both to inform the resilience planning process as well as to directly build resilience at all societal scales. The city of Belfast is currently developing a resilience strategy that addresses flooding in the city as well as other environmental, social and economic risks. Using complexity theory as an analytical tool, the thesis uses a scoping study to identify occurring and recommended types of risk communication in other urban, developed contexts and the challenges to implementing risk communication. These findings are then applied to the Belfast case and based on a document analysis, the risk communication occurring in Belfast and likely challenges are analysed. The findings of the thesis include the fact that both the scoping study findings and the Belfast documents recommend high engagement of the public in risk communication. Despite this, the majority of risk communication in Belfast involves the public in a contributing or feedback-giving role rather than as a leader in the process. Many, if not all, of the challenges to risk communication identified in the scoping study could be expected to arise in Belfast and most are already addressed in some way in the planning process. The thesis also explores the relevance of the specific context in which the risk communication takes place and concludes that although learnings from other cities should be recognised, the challenges posed by Belfast’s history make it a particularly challenging context for risk communication.},
  author       = {Virtanen, Katriina},
  keyword      = {Risk communication,Participation,Resilience,Flooding,Complexity,Belfast.},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Incorporating Risk Communication into Flood Resilience Planning: Challenges and Solutions in Belfast},
  year         = {2019},
}