Policy and Economics of Hazards

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Reducing the risk through fuel reduction burning
Reducing the risk through fuel reduction burning

Project Status:

Current government spending on natural disaster response is more than 20 times the spending on preparedness. Many climate-related natural hazards are increasing, along with the number of people living in hazard-prone areas. Large natural disasters also cross domains, moving from the private to the public realm, and shifting from a local, to a state or national concern. This raises the potential of future, unmanaged risks.

This project, now in its utilisation phase, mapped a broad range of economic, social and environmental values and related them to natural hazards across several case studies. It explored who owns these values and what happens when they cross domains, as well as how a range of alternative strategies may contribute to improved resilience by sustaining economic, social and environmental values in a changing environment.

Current government spending on natural disaster response is more than 20 times the spending on preparedness. Many climate-related natural hazards are increasing, along with the number of people living in hazard-prone areas. Large natural disasters also cross domains, moving from the private to the public realm, and shifting from a local, to a state or national concern. This raises the potential of future, unmanaged risks.

The spending mismatch is well understood, but potential deficits in important social and environmental values are also faced that may not be adequately compensated. If a risk is owned, then the balance between preparedness and response can be assessed. If the risk is un-owned, these values may be damaged and degraded, or lost.

The project, now in its utilisation phase, mapped a broad range of economic, social and environmental values and related them to natural hazards across several case studies. It explored who owns these values and what happens when they cross domains, as well as how a range of alternative strategies may contribute to improved resilience by sustaining economic, social and environmental values in a changing environment.

Four decision making areas were identified where risk ownership can be assessed as part of strategic decision making.

  • Risk ownership was found to show an imbalance between the public and private sectors, which is potentially unsustainable. In particular, allocation for state and local government was considerably higher for risk and consequences and risk actions than was for the ownership of values at risk.
  • Coordination between contributing agencies and agendas is needed to clarify ownership and support more effective management of activities and use of resources. Risk ownership in areas contributing to resilience and risk reduction were found across multiple agencies and agendas. This was particularly the case in agencies who work with regional and community development and climate change adaptation. Coordination between contributing agencies and agendas is needed to clarify ownership and support more effective allocation and use of resources.
  • Risk ownership relevant to strategic decision making is ill-defined, particularly for longer term activities focusing on recovery and resilience building. No long-term (two or more years) policy, plans or strategies for environmental or social recovery to natural hazards were found.
  • Knowledge gaps were found across long-term strategic horizons (two or more years) in relation to mapping and identifying ownership of risks and consequences, and resilience and recovery activities – particularly for flood and heatwave hazards, and for social and environmental values.

To assist decision-makers, emergency managers and planners, the team developed a governance framework to support better understanding of risk ownership. The next stage of utilisation will involve training for practitioners on the best way to use the framework for their needs.

Achieving effective risk ownership requires a common understanding of how risks are changing and consensus and acceptance around who owns these risks and how they own them. This research goes beyond simple linear approaches, to a more adaptive and flexible approach focused on what values are identified as most important by risk owners.

Ed Pikusa and Holger Maier receive their outstanding achievement award from Dr Richard Thornton.
18 September, 2017
A cluster team and PhD student have been recognised with CRC awards at AFAC17 powered by INTERSCHUTZ, the CRC's annual conference held in collaboration with AFAC in Sydney recently.
Black Saturday 2009 Kinglake
16 August, 2017
An all-day workshop on strategic risk ownership for emergency managers will lead the CRC component of the post conference development program at AFAC17, in Sydney next month.
Celete Young at the AFAC16 conference.
20 June, 2017
Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC research Celeste Young has received the best poster award at the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference.
Photo by Michelle Robinson/Flickr/cc
7 March, 2017
In an increasingly complex and connected world, the types of decisions we need to make and how we make them is changing.
AJEM October 2016 cover
26 October, 2016
Many peer-reviewed papers from the AFAC16 powered by INTERSCHUTZ Research Forum have been published in a special edition of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management.
13 October, 2016
New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
Holger Maier presents at the 2016 Hobart RAF
24 June, 2016
A number of insights around who dies in floods, mitigation benefits, estimating resilience and economics were key takeways for me from the Research Advisory Forum in Hobart.
Year Type Citation
2017 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2017 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2017 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Conference Paper Young, C. & Jones, R. The uncomfortable conversation: understanding value through risk ownership. AFAC17 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report Jones, R., Young, C. & Symons, J. Mapping values and risks from natural hazards at geographic and institutional scales: framework development. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report Young, C. & Jones, R. Risk ownership for natural hazards: summary of key research findings. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Report Young, C., Jones, R., Kumnick, M., Christopher, G. & Casey, N. Risk ownership framework for emergency management policy and practice. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Report Young, C., Jones, R. & Symons, J. Mapping and understanding bushfire and natural hazard vulnerability and risks at the institutional scale: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Report Young, C., Symons, J. & Jones, R. Institutional maps of risk ownership for strategic decision making. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Report Young, C., Jones, R. & Symons, J. Understanding values at risk and risk ownership workshop synthesis report. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2015 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2015 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Conference Paper Jones, R., Young, C. & Symons, J. Risk ownership and natural hazards: across systems and across values - peer viewed. Adelaide Conference 2015 (2015).
2015 Report Young, C. & Jones, R. Mapping and Understanding Bushfire and Natural Hazard Vulnerability and Risks at the Institutional Scale Annual Report 2014. (2015).
2015 Report Young, C., Jones, R. & Symons, J. Mapping and understanding bushfire and natural hazard vulnerability and risks at the institutional scale: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report Young, C., Symons, J. & Jones, R. Whose risk is it anyway?. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2014 Report Young, C. The Problem Solution Framework. (2014).
Communicating Dynamic Risk in a Connected World; Perceptions and Possibilities
18 Aug 2015

Bushfires and natural hazards are a dynamic risk where risk levels are unpredictable and more likely to change or fluctuate quickly. They are also often systemic and can result in unanticipated outcoms. Communication in this area is crucial and is only effective if it is based upon a broader understanding of how people respond to dynamic risk and why.

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Roger Jones Conference Poster 2016
12 Aug 2016

The project has moved its focus from spatial mapping towards insitutional mapping to support strategic decision making surrounding prevention, preparedness, recovery and resilience using a multi-value approach.

Introducing the risk ownership framework for emergency management policy and practice
30 Jun 2017

This project aims to develop a framework for understanding the ownership of risks from bushfires and natural hazards at the institutional level in order to improve risk governance.

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