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

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för Riskhantering och Samhällssäkerhet

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.

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