The co-production of risk from a natural hazards perspective: science and policy interaction for landslide risk management in Italy

Abstract

Despite continuing technological advancement in hazard and vulnerability assessment, risk modelling and hazard mitigation techniques, losses to disasters associated with natural hazards continue and in some cases are increasing across Europe and worldwide. This paper focuses on the need to bridge the gap between technical solutions and the sociopolitical contexts in which these are produced, to better understand and create more effective risk management regimes. We do so with application of the science–policy co-production frame to landslide risk management in Italy. The methodology deployed included a desk study informed by semi-structured interviews carried out with selected key stakeholders at national, regional and municipal level. We propose a normative and analytical framework for transferring co-production into natural hazard research by presenting a matrix identifying four contexts within which co-production may unfold. The matrix is based on two axes, which distinguish between innovation and its absence in science and policy domains. We examine several examples of co-production, such as the water–soil integrated approach to risk management or the implementation of hazard/risk assessment. The results highlight that the insulation of science from the institutional context within which knowledge is produced and used is a very problematic issue. This often hinders the implementation of desirable policies and undermines the effectiveness of interventions. Moreover, innovation in science and policy does not automatically result in successful solutions for landslide risk management. Finally, results confirm the utility of co-production but also highlight methodological challenges associated with the introduction of this new conceptual paradigm into the well-structured communities of scientists and policy-makers.

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Acknowledgments

This work was funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme through the project SafeLand—Living with landslide risk in Europe: Assessment, effects of global change, and risk management strategies, Grant Agreement: 226479. The paper reflects the authors’ views and not those of the European Commission. Neither the European Commission nor any member of the SafeLand Consortium is liable for any use of the information in this paper. We also profoundly thank all the interviewees for their precious testimonies based on long years of experience in landslide risk management.

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Correspondence to Anna Scolobig.

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Scolobig, A., Pelling, M. The co-production of risk from a natural hazards perspective: science and policy interaction for landslide risk management in Italy. Nat Hazards 81, 7–25 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-015-1702-1

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Keywords

  • Science–policy co-production
  • Landslides
  • Boundary organizations
  • Public involvement
  • Disaster management