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.
- Natural hazards
- Social capacity building