Assessing multifaceted vulnerability and resilience in order to design risk-mitigation strategies

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Authors: S. Menoni, D. Molinari, D. Parker, F. Ballio, S. Tapsell

Publication Year: 2012


Journal: Nat Hazard

Volume: 64

Issue: 3

Categories: Organizational Change, Gestalt Switch


Vulnerability studies have evolved significantly in recent decades. Although not overly theoretical compared with some other fields of science, some important conceptual progress has been made. At the practical level, vulnerability indicators have been used either at a generic level or for particular hazard contexts. However, these indicators are often predictably too narrow in their coverage of aspects of vulnerability. An important need remains to produce more conceptually informed vulnerability indicators or parameters and more satisfactory operational tools to assess weaknesses and resilience in coping with natural risks. In this paper, we present the methodology developed in the context of a recently concluded EU funded project, ENSURE (Enhancing resilience of communities and territories facing natural and na-tech hazards). The resulting vulnerability and resilience assessment framework tool adopts a systemic approach embedding and integrating as much as possible the multifaceted and articulated nature of concepts such as vulnerability and resilience. The tool guides evaluators towards a comprehensive and context-related understanding of strengths and fragilities of a given territory and community with respect to natural extremes. In this paper, both the framework tool and its application to Sondrio in Italy, which is exposed to flash floods, are presented and discussed. The merits and demerits of the new tool are discussed, and the results of the application to Sondrio indicate where data are currently missing, suggesting the kind of data, which will need to be gathered in future to achieve more complete assessments. The results also suggest vulnerability reduction policies and actions and further ways of revising the existing framework tool in the future.