Perspectives on social capacity building for natural hazards: Outlining an emerging field of research and practice in Europe

Christian Kuhlicke, Annett Steinführer, Chloe Begg, Chiara Bianchizza, Michael Bründl, Matthias Buchecker, Bruna De Marchi, Marina Di Masso Tarditti, Corina Höppner, Blaž Komac, Louis Lemkow, Jochen Luther, Simon Mccarthy, Luigi Pellizzoni, Ortwin Renn, Anna Scolobig, Meera Supramaniam, Sue Tapsell, Gisela Wachinger, Gordon WalkerRebecca Whittle, Matija Zorn, Hazel Faulkner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


Social capacity building for natural hazards is a topic increasingly gaining relevance not only for so-called developing countries but also for European welfare states which are continuously challenged by the social, economic and ecological impacts of natural hazards. Following an outline of recent governance changes with regard to natural hazards, we develop a heuristic model of social capacity building by taking into account a wide range of existing expertise from different fields of research. Particular attention is paid to social vulnerability and its assessment, as well as to risk communication and risk education as specific strategies of social capacity building. We propose to distinguish between interventionist and participatory approaches, thus enabling for a better understanding of existing practices of social capacity building as well as their particular strengths and weaknesses. By way of conclusion, we encourage more research on social capacity building for natural hazards in the European context which at present is highly diverse and, at least in parts, only poorly investigated. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)804-814
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Communication
  • Education
  • Governance
  • Natural hazards
  • Participation
  • Perception
  • Social capacity building
  • Vulnerability


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