First international Conference






The international conference, held in Trondheim in January 2008, brought together a number of international experts and young researcher from Norway in the field of geography, sociology, psychology, civil engineering, hydrology, industrial economy, environmental science, etc. The conference was a great success. The particular presentations and some relevant publications form the invited speakers are accessible for the project members via the common project e-room.
The presentations and fruitful discussions provided great input for the recent work.
Numerous contacts between the development group and the international experts were made.





  • Mainstreaming and the transformative role of integrated assessment methodologies, Paul Weaver (Durham)
  • Challenges in Natech risk reduction, Elisabeth Krausmann (Ispra)
    Risk communication aspects - lessons learned, Britt-Marie Drottz-Sjöberg (Trondheim)
  • Participatory appraisal of climate change adaptation in three regions of the world - experiences from the ADAM project, David Tàbara (Barcelona)
  • Adaptation for climate change. Resilient strategies for managing the unexpected, Jan Hovden (Trondheim)
  • Flood risk assessment under climate change, Paolo Burlando (Zurich)
  • Risk perception and communication, Anthony Patt (Laxenburg)
  • Practical considerations for mainstreaming and transformative risk and vulnerability analysis, James Rydock (Trondheim



Mainstreaming and the transformative role of integrated assessment methodologies

The key note speaker Paul Weaver from the Wolfson Research Institute in Durham, U.K., defined the terms “mainstreaming”, “transformative” and “vulnerability assessment”. He pinpointed that there is a need for a common language and a conceptual common framework. Several different methods like vulnerability index and maps, livelihood sensitive approaches, scenarios, syndromes and integrated vulnerability and agent-based models can be used for the implementation of integrated assessment methodologies.


Challenges in Natech risk reduction


Elisabeth Krausmann of the Joint Research Centre of the European Comission in Ispra, Italy presented NEDIES, a Natural and Environmental Disaster and Information Exchange System, which provides general disaster information, risk reduction measures, multi-hazard analyses and risk mapping.
NATECH, Natural disasters triggered technological accident represents another focus area of the Joint Research Centre. These disasters are particularly problematic and need a specific development of a method and tools for assessment and representation. The methodology for a rapid NATECH risk assessment includes:
o data collection and inventory development,
o hazard identification and analyses
o Vulnerability and exposure analyses
The outcome is a NATECH risk index, useful for raising awareness, for expressing influence factors and for screening purposes. Based on these risk management strategies for the industry, community and government can be developed.


Risk communication aspects - lessons learned


Britt-Marie Drottz-Sjöberg from the Department of Psychology at the University Trondheim talked about lessons, which were learned from five different research projects, which included following topics:
- people affected by radiation from the Chernobyl accident
- opinions, influences and transparency in larger groups
- reactions to incorrect media information; communication between local politicians and personnel at a nuclear power plant
- communication and assessments across expert groups
- risk to current and future generations
The result of the five research project revealed, that the information targets can be different. They can consist of individuals, groups, people in specific geographic areas and “the public” generally. Risk communication work needs to specify problems, targets, goals and methods. The achievement requires openness, transparency, interest and respect. The goal cannot be ”acceptance” but exchange of views and knowledge of various perspectives.


Participatory appraisal of climate change adaptation in three regions of the world, Experiences from the ADAM project


David Tàbara from the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona provide some insights from the EU project ADAM, Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies: supporting European climate policy. The project includes 8 work packages, 26 partner institutes, 35 deliverables and around 90 researchers over a period of three years. The objectives of ADAM are:
• To assess whether existing mitigation and adaptation policies can achieve a tolerable transition to a world with a global climate no warmer than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
• To develop and appraise a portfolio of policy options that could address shortfalls of existing adaptation and mitigation policies.
• To develop innovative methodologies and procedures capable to adequately appraise climate policy options in a socially and ecologically robust way.
Furthermore David presented in details Work Package P1 Development of a Policy Appraisal Framework and Work Package Pd3 regional case studies.
Further information about the ADAM project can be found under



Adaptation for climate change. Resilient strategies for managing the unexpected


Jan Hovden, form the Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management at the University Trondheim, spoke about “Adaptation to climate change. Resilient strategies for managing the unexpected.” He exemplified the challenge of climate change adaptation, the interrelation between adaptation, mitigation and impacts, sources of societal vulnerabilities, risk classification and risk management strategies.
Moreover Jan presented a the Norwegian Climate Adaptation Programme “Klimatilpasning Norge” The aim of the programme is to assist responsible authorities in their effort to adapt to climate changes and to link 13 ministries in order to provide cross-sectorial perspectives and policies on a national level. An executive secretariat is established at the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning, Norway (DSB).
The talk was completed with a comparison of adaptation and resilience.



Flood risk assessment under climate change


Paolo Burlando form the chair of Hydrology and Water Resource Management from the Institute of Environmental Engineering at the ETH Zurich presented a part of his research under the title “Flood risk assessment under climate change”. Results from Case studies for rainfalls and floods in Central Italy and the Alps indicate significant changes of the rainfall internal structure, significant changes of extremes and associated return periods of rainfalls. Furthermore there is a general increase for future flood risks and a specific increase of volumes and duration. The implications for adaptation are among other things for example, that there is a need to focus on a mid-term rather than a long-term, that the structural flood defence must account for different design procedures and the risk acceptance and management have to change to cope with increased magnitude of high and mid frequency events. The changes of the rainfall regime and of flood frequency and magnitude may lead to more collateral risks. Flood risk management should be a part of integrated water resources management.



Risk perception and communication


Anthony Patt from the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria introduced us to two projects about “Risk (and vulnerability) perception and communication in Africa and to a European project called ATEAM . The project on the Limpopo River Floodplain in Mozambique bespoke the importance of risk understanding: ”Helping people managing risk doesn’t work unless it’s coupled with a process to understand them. And helping people to understand risk doesn’t work unless it’s coupled wit a process to manage them.”
The European project ATEAM, Advanced Terrestrial Ecosystem Analysis and Modelling, delivered great results in identifying risks people have to face and in providing information for stakeholders in a way that could improve management. It turned out, that it was a waste telling stakeholder, how vulnerable they are.
The third presented project from Zimbabwe figured out, how important the credibility for risk and vulnerability communication is.
Anthony closed his interesting talk with the “Anna Karenina Vulnerability Paradox:
All successful risk and vulnerability assessments are successful for the same reason, but each unsuccessful one is unsuccessful for a different reason.
All unsuccessful risk and vulnerability assessments tell decision-makers more or less the same thing (how at risk or vulnerable they are), whereas each successful vulnerability assessment tell decision-makers something different.”



Practical considerations for mainstreaming and transformative risk and vulnerability analysis


James Rydock from Research Management AS, Trondheim, provided at the beginning of his talk an interesting definition for the terms “mainstreaming and transformative” in association with risk and vulnerability analyses.
On the example of the Flood Hazard Liaison and Advice Group in Scotland James presented a mainstreamed and transformative method, which is already used for land use planning. The Flood hazard Liaison Group is comprised of local stakeholders including insurance representatives. The initiative covers all areas with potentially serious flood hazard. A comparison with Great Britain shows, that there doesn’t exist such a system like in Scotland. There is no insurance available on the floodplain. Private developers shy away from building in such hazardous areas, while public housing is continuing. It seems that the floodplains in Great Britain become a form of social dumping.


At the end of the conference James was so kind to provide an overview about all the interesting talks of the last tow days.


Once again a special thanks to the invited speakers and the attendees of the conference for their engagement and the great conference!

Published November 16, 2007