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Drivers and barriers of adaptation initiatives – How societal transformation affects natural hazard management and risk mitigation in Europe

A key challenge of hazard risk management is finding novel ways to respond to future extremes amid increasing vulnerability. Societal transformation in the context of multi-functional protection schemes offers potential in this regard. However, the drivers and barriers of societal transformation in hazard management are poorly understood. Here we interrogate drivers and barriers of societal transformation in natural hazard management through case studies in Austria, France and Ireland focusing on attempts to integrate multi-functional protection schemes in the context of flood and avalanche hazards. We conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders connected to proposed transformative strategies in the selected case studies. We find that transformative approaches have been mainly supported by local initiatives instigated by local governments, residents, or NGOs with the aim of complementing conventional hazard management policies. Our analysis shows that local actors and stakeholders often pursue initiatives to address local problems or to seize local opportunities rather than to contribute to a broader societal transformation. According to our findings, key drivers of community-based initiatives with multiple functionality and use include: (i) lack of funding, (ii) lack of legal protection or (iii) lack of space, where classical risk management measures can no longer respond to new circumstances. In contrast, key barriers relate to: (i) lack of local capacities, (ii) lack of local political support and (iii) technological challenges in the implementation phase. These insights support European regions currently working on the implementation of climate change adaptation strategies arising from natural hazards.
Author: Thaler, T; et al.
Language: English
Pubished By: Science of the Total Environment
Pubished date: 2019

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