871374 Politics of natural hazards and risk governance

Lecture and seminar
Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Rudolf-Miklau, Florian
Offered in
Wintersemester 2020/21
Languages of instruction


Natural hazards endanger the human living-space in various forms and substantially influence the basic function of living of the people. On a global level natural disasters have become an important factor in economy and security. Thus the current changes in nature and society require the development of adaptation strategies. The growing vulnerability of society pushes forward the emergence of a comprehensive natural hazard management, which contains all areas of responsibility such as prevention and coping of catastrophes. In Austria natural hazard management counts among the tasks by the state and politically seen is a “cross-sectional matter”, which shows a legally and organizationally “fragmented” structure (complex distribution of competences).

The lecture will give an comprehensive overview of the political and operative system of natural hazard management, of the institutions involved and their cooperation as well as of the most important tasks (prevention, preparedness, preparation, coping) in Austria and on the European (international) level. In addition the major policy fields as well as the derived protection goals and adaptation strategies are presented. A special focus of the lecture lies in the area of the natural hazard management on the communal level (task of the municipalities in their own domain).
Actually the lecture will focus on the following topics:
• Natural hazards in the human living space:
• Risk by natural hazards in a areal context (globally, European Union, Alpine Space, Austria, municipality):
• Natural hazard management: definitions, historic development, single measures or safety system
• Protection goals and concepts, fundamental strategies of natural hazard management
• The model of the “risk cycle”: prevention, preparedness, preparation and coping of catastrophes; systematic of measures
• Policy fields in natural hazard management: services of public interest, public security, area development, environmental protection, regional development
• Governmental administration in natural hazard management in Austria: legal basis, public interest, federal distribution of competences, models and structure of administration in the field of natural hazard management; international comparison
• Natural hazard management in the private sector
• Institutions of natural hazard management: Who is who?, models of cooperation, network of the institutions
• Adaptation strategies and models to increase the resilience of society for natural disasters (locally, regionally, globally); consequences of climate change
• Social balance (compensation) of risk and models for the transfer of risks: legal instruments, risk governance, financial transfer of risks (insurances), models for cooperative precautions
• Natural hazard policies: international strategies and main focus (EC, UN)
• Tasks, strategies and focal points in natural hazard research on the European and national level, networks of knowledge, instruments of research promotion, cross-linking of science and policy
• Potential of development in natural hazard management versus limits of protection, residual risk, life-cycle-management for existing protection systems

Previous knowledge expected

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

The lecture shall enable the student to fit the detailed knowledge gained during the master study “Alpine natural hazards/Torrent and avalanche control” into the systematic and political context of natural hazard management in Austria. The graduates will reach the necessary competence to fulfill strategic and administrative task in the public and private sector of natural hazard management including the level of the European Union. Another goal is to provide the student with the capability to adapt and reposition their future projects (research and development, hazard and risk mapping, protection measures) to the relevant political framework conditions.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.