Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 145–156 | Cite as

Multi-risk, multi-scale and multi-stakeholder – the contribution of a bow-tie analysis for risk management in the trilateral Wadden Sea Region

  • Birgit GerkensmeierEmail author
  • Beate M. W. Ratter


Risk management processes increasingly call for enhanced stakeholder participation, and aim to integrate different risk perceptions, concerns and interests. Frequently, this goal is driven by the increased complexity of risk management processes, as risk management processes continuously have to deal with multi-risk situations including impacts resulting from risks of natural hazards and risks caused by misguided social or economic development. Although stakeholder participation is required by different policies, major challenges still arise from the question of how to perform multi-stakeholder participation in practice. In order to find answers, we tested the so-called ‘bow-tie analysis’ as a potential tool to facilitate multi-stakeholder participation with a major effort on integrating stakeholders risk perceptions and interest in the risk management processes. The bow-tie analysis is a commonly used risk assessment technique (IEC 2009) to analyse cause-and-effect pathways of risks, but its application in multi-stakeholder processes in risk management of natural hazards, especially in a European context, is rather new. Using practical experiences from the trilateral Wadden Sea Region we demonstrate the bow-tie analysis’ contribution to coastal risk management processes in this coastal area by facilitating collaborative identification, comprehension and analysis of the management system. The use of a modified bow-tie analysis in collaboration with stakeholders from the Wadden Sea Region proved to be an appropriate framework for enhancing the understanding of risk management processes and fostered disclosure of different perceptions and concerns of multi-risk problematics. The bow-tie can be beneficial as a communication and co-construction tool in risk management processes in a multi-risk context.


Bow-tie analysis Risk management Multi-stakeholder participation Wadden Sea Region 



The research underlying this paper has received funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement No. 308438 (ENHANCE: Enhancing risk management partnerships for catastrophic natural hazards in Europe). We thank all the participating Wadden Sea Forum members for their contribution as well as fruitful and inspiring discussions during the stakeholder workshops. We would also like to thank Roland Cormier, Cormac Walsh and our anonymous reviewers for the very helpful and supportive comments on earlier versions of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Coastal ResearchHelmholtz-Zentrum GeesthachtGeesthachtGermany
  2. 2.Institute of GeographyUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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