The KULTURisk project aims at developing a culture of risk prevention by evaluating the benefits of different risk prevention initiatives.
This evaluation will be carried out by developing a novel methodology and referring to different types of water-related catastrophes, such as river inundations, urban flash floods, storm surges, rainfall triggered debris flows and landslides.
Europe has recently suffered a number of natural disasters, such as the droughts and heat wave (summer 2003), devastating flooding in Central Europe (August 2002) and in England and Wales (summer 2007, autumn 2009), the dramatic Abruzzo earthquake (6 April 2009) and landslides in Messina (September 2009).
The extreme consequences of the recent catastrophic events have highlighted that risk prevention still needs to be improved to reduce human losses and economic damages.
For instance, it is interesting to note that from 2002 to 2008 the European commission Solidarity Fund has financially supported eight countries to help them recover from flood events, with about 150 million Euros of funding.
Hence, it is essential to investigate and disseminate the benefits of prevention measures compared to traditional post-disaster recovery. Prevention means both
preventing disasters from happening (when this is possible), and
taking measures to reduce their impacts
The development of a culture of risk prevention requires the improvement of our:
memory and knowledge of past disasters;
communication and understanding capacity of current and future hazards;
awareness of risk, and
preparedness for future events.
The main objectives of the KULTURisk project are:
A critical and comprehensive review of static and dynamic measures to prevent water-related hazards with special focus on the importance of risk communication techniques.
The development of a risk-based methodology for the evaluation and accounting of risk prevention measures.
The demonstration that prevention measures are more effective from a social and economic point of view than post-disaster recovery for different types of water-related risks characterised by different temporal and spatial scales and different socio-economic contexts within Europe.
The promotion of a culture of risk prevention by using the KULTURisk outcomes as examples to:
increase the risk awareness of the public via improved communication;
shape risk perception of inhabitants in an appropriate and responsible way; and
train professionals, regional authorities, officers of municipalities, consultants, academics and students to better evaluate the socio-economic benefit of risk prevention techniques for water-related risks.
Activities and Outputs
In order to demonstrate the advantages of prevention options, an original methodology will be developed, applied and validated using specific European case studies, including transboundary areas.
The benefits of state-of-the-art prevention measures, such as early warning systems, non-structural options (e.g. mapping and planning), risk transfer strategies (e.g. insurance policy), and structural initiatives, will be demonstrated.
KULTURisk will first focus on water-related hazards as the likelihood and adverse impacts of water-related catastrophes might increase in the near future because of land-use and/or climate changes.
In particular, a variety of case studies characterised by diverse socio-economic contexts, different types of water-related hazards (floods, debris flows and landslides, storm surges) and space-time scales will be utilised.
Finally, the applicability of the KULTURisk approach to different types of natural hazards (e.g. earthquakes, forest fires) will also be analysed.