Based on concepts and arguments of policy analysis (for instance, interpretative policy analysis) the group deals with societal discourses about risk, risk management, resilience and planning. Therefore, discourses are not seen as power-free, detached opportunities to talk about risk and risk mitigation, but as complex relationships of forums and arenas that are based on deep assumptions about how to understand and manage risk and how to relate risk management and planning. Specific topics are, for instance:
- Acknowledging new discourses and terminology gaps, as well as inconsistencies among scientific strands (planning included);
- Historic and new versions and episodes of risk (natural, technological, environmental, climate change risks, Na-techs, socio-economic risks etc) and their implications for planning.
Methods and models
Currently, we can see attempts at European Level to consolidate terminologies about risk and risk management (e.g., “Language of” of the IP FLOODsite of the EC). These attempts show that a comprehensive approach to methods and models is challenging. In a first step, the group focuses on the following:
- Key notions (hazard, vulnerability, exposure, risk, risk perception, risk governance, resilience, mitigation, relief, rehabilitation, etc.) as conceptualized by risk researchers, risk managers, and planners;
- Models and methods for vulnerability, risk and resilience assessment ;
- Indicators and standards of resilience in spatial planning;
- Assessment at different levels of spatial systems (local, regional, national, transnational, international) with an emphasis on urban and urbanizing areas.
Co-ordinating risk management and strategic spatial planning
Strategic spatial planning is an attempt in some European Cities and Regions to foster more space - and place - conscious governance “landscapes”. Governance encompasses complex and dynamic relationships (e.g., actors from different societal realms, different co-ordination mechanisms like markets and hierarchies, professional decision-making and public participation). Exploring ways and means for linking risk management approaches to strategic spatial planning is significant for the group and could contribute to the development of other Thematic Groups within AESOP as well. Examples for specific topics are:
- Defining a vocabulary (terminology) that accommodates effective coupling of socio-spatial planning with risk management;
- Investigation and promotion of the role of planners in risk governance taking into account risk perceptions;
- Investigating the possibilities for incorporating risk mitigation objectives and strategies in the national, trans-national and international planning and environmental legal provisions;
- Calling for new ideas on innovative spatial and non-satial planning tools serving risk mitigation and conversely on risk mitigation processes and instruments that might be systematically incorporated in spatial planning;
- Participation and communication of/about risks between politicians, officials, NGOs, and citizens;
- Exploring the relationship between risks and the urban land market;
- Developing measures for the effectiveness of mitigation plan decisions.
The networking of researchers and researches is the main focus of this action domain. Actions that will be coordinated with other action domains include:
- the collection and review of current research practices and experiences through projects in European academic contexts;
- identifying main topics and research fields for RRMS;
- establishing links to other research groups in AESOP;
- circulating research initiatives and proposals of potential interest to members;
- comparative analyses of the state of risk governance within legal and organizational contexts at different levels;
- developing efficient and viable standards, criteria, and tools in mitigation planning;
- developing methods to finance risk mitigation implementation and assessing effectiveness.
Other specific actions and products will be discussed and developed over time.
In this action domain, key issues for the future education of spatial planners, such as methods of introducing risk identification-assessment- reduction know-how in planning curricula, will be identified and determined. These issues will be discussed within the RRMS group during its regular meetings at AESOP Congresses or during specially convened workshops. The educational requirements are linked closely to the other action domains, but within this action domain specific standards for future planning education could be discussed and developed. The development of Summer Schools or other activities for young academics related to RRMS matters has a high priority.
Practice and science collaboration
Based on recent attempts to foster stronger links between planning practice and science (e.g., the method “Engaged Scholarship” put forth by Andrew Van de Ven/University of Minnesota), this action domains deals with a broad range of possible projects (e.g., informed basic research, “true” collaborative research, action research, evaluation research). Specific suggestions to support communication at European level about practice/science communication are in preparation (e.g., documentation about “collaborative research projects” with regard to co-ordinating risk management and strategic spatial planning).
Communications and dissemination
This action domain is responsible for communicating with members and other interested parties on the RRMS activities and related topics. The intention is to strive for two-way communication in a timely and an efficient manner. In addition to documents that are directly connected to RRMS activities the website and other channels will be a source of information on project and funding opportunities and a platform for the identification of issues that require debate or critical examination.
Further Possible activities/outputs
- Discussion papers targeting the academic environment
- Development and dissemination of specific topics and methods as teaching material
- Developing an inventory of academic courses / modules (which is a planned action within the emerging Thematic Group on Strategic Planning within AESOP)
- Evaluation of real world planning decisions and implementations
- Criticism of actions taken by mitigation policy bodies at the international and national levels
- Organization of workshops for researchers and PhD students
- Collaborative workshops with related professionals and experts like earth-scientists, engineers, social and political scientists etc.
- Developing means of collaboration with the EU and international bodies dealing with risk mitigation
- Reporting on current developments of research and implementation concerning risk mitigation
- Compiling methods of integrating mitigation planning theory and case studies into planning curriculum
- Bibliography (share and recommendation)
- Endorsement of the thematic group and disseminating the information to schools of planning, calling for support and participation
- Encouragement and support for building up a thematic discussion forum and support for intermediary meetings
- Dissemination of feedback from discussion groups
- Support for the development of a data base on related studies and contacts of researchers
- Peer review of documents developed in this theme
- Publication support and provisions for the preparation and distribution of a ‘newsletter’, thematic books and teaching material
- Formal support for the thematic group in its approach and applications to EU administration and international bodies