Enhancing urban resilience: The use of risk communication to motivate individual adaptive behaviour in flood risk areas

19:00 Tuesday 28 May




Marie-Sophie Attems (Austria) 1; Sven Fuchs (Austria) 1; Thomas Thaler (Austria) 1

1 - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

Flooding annually causes the highest economic and societal losses in Europe. This is mainly due to a rising number of exposed assets in hazard-prone areas. Regarding flood losses, complementing government-led protection and adaptation measures, private measures (dry- and wet-flood proofing, barrier systems, deflection of flood discharge, etc.) have been found to decrease potential damage significantly. However, such protection and adaptation measures are currently not adequately implemented, which is – among others – a result of insufficient communication pathways between flood authorities and homeowners.

Risk communication is generally operated by governments, which distribute information through various media channels and printed as well as online guidelines. Information can include hazard maps, information on possible adaptation strategies, as well as emergency procedures. As information is only received by a small number of people, the effectiveness to communicate risks and motivate people to individually prepare has to be questioned. Research has shown, that information tailored to the needs of individuals influences their perception on risk. Consequently, the question arises whether appropriate risk communication can trigger protective behaviour. Thus, the aim of this paper is to analyse why people do or do not implement private protection and adaptation measures. Hence, this study focuses on how homeowners in flood prone areas can be motivated to realise private measures by considering their knowledge about hazards, their risk behaviour and individual communication strategies wanted.

First results give insight into current protection and adaptation strategies realised by inhabitants and the different needs of risk communication depending on their risk behaviour. Further expected results are to integrate insights into improving communication strategies in order to provide tailored information. Results can be additionally applied to advance planning support systems in risk management strategies in order to move towards more flood-resilient communities.