The Alps are specifically prone to natural hazards. A generally growing population and accumulation of human assets and settlements in hazard-prone areas as well as extreme events tend to increase natural hazard risk (RSA7).
The Alps face a variety of natural hazards with different scopes including local events such as avalanches, rockfalls, torrential hazards and landslides as well as larger events like floods. As natural hazards do not stop at regional or national borders, an Alpine-wide common framework to deal with such cross-border risks needs to be developed which also enables an exchange of experiences. Basically, risk management for cross-border risks involves the following three questions: 1) What are the potential cross-border hazard hot spots? 2) What risk are we willing to take? 3) Which measures should we adopt? (RSA7).
An Alpine-wide risk management plan on cross-border risks develops a common approach, especially regarding the methods of risk mapping and monitoring for cross-border risks, harmonisation of approaches to deal with residual risks and a common toolbox on measures (including innovative technologies). This Alpine-wide risk management plan should clearly focus on risks with large-scale and potential cross-border impacts, but should also enable an exchange on managing risks on the local scale.
Transport, energy and communication infrastructures build the backbone of the economy, especially for the Alps as crossroads for the European market and as important element of the European energy system. Also, health infrastructures have a cross-border function in the Alps. Specific risks/hot spots for these critical infrastructures need to be identified in a common approach to develop coordinated adaptation solutions.
Furthermore, „hot spots“ for action can arise in settlement areas which are affected by cross-border natural risks. Such hot spots need to be identified in order to develop coordinated approaches for risk management.
Based on results of measures 1a and 1b, a common Alpine-wide framework for risk management is developed. This framework should take into account existing risk management systems and their approaches (e.g., existing flood risk management systems). The following steps need to be considered:
Definition of common steps/cycle of risk management
Definition of common methods and standards for risk mapping and monitoring, based on existing national legal framework conditions.
Delimitation of risks that should be considered in the common framework (local vs. cross-border impacts) (based on steps 1a and 1b)
Recommendations and toolbox on risk prevention measures for cross-border risks (e.g., regarding harmonization of early warning systems, regarding construction stops in flood-prone areas) and experiences.
Definition of specific measures to deal with hazard “hot-spots” for critical infrastructures and settlements
Recommendations for practitioners (could also include training/exchange)
Based on results of measure 1b, a coordinated approach to deal with “hot spots” is developed:
Identify financing opportunities for structural protection measures, where justified from a cost-benefit perspective
permanent monitoring of hazard ‘hot spots’
preparing recovery measures if damages occur
taking a risk governance approach that seeks to strike a balance between risk prevention goals (adequate protection levels) and risk tolerance (acceptable risk levels), against the background of (public) costs-benefit considerations
Existing risk management systems implemented in the Alpine countries (e.g., Integrated Risk Management approach in CH, Risk mapping approaches in Germany regarding flood risk, transboundary flood risk management plans, etc.)
PLANALP activities, e.g., Alpine strategy for adaptation to climate change in the field of natural hazards (2013, PLANALP) (stock-taking No. 3), Recommendations on local adaptation to Climate Change for Water Management and Natural Hazards in the Alps (stock-taking No. 8), RSA 7 (stock-taking No. 28)
EUSALP AG8 activities
CAPA – Climate Adaptation Platform for the Alps (stock-taking No. 45)
Network of national adaptation policy makers of the Alpine countries (stock-taking No. 46)
Adapt-Alp (stock-taking No. 65)
Virtual Alpine Observatory VAO (DE, since 2014) (stock-taking No. 39)
The Alps are specifically prone to natural hazards with different scopes, including local events such as avalanches, rockfalls, torrential hazards and landslides as well as larger events like floods. A generally growing population and accumulation of human assets and settlements in hazard-prone areas as well as extreme events tend to increase natural hazard risk. As natural hazards do not stop at regional or national borders, an Alpine-wide common framework to deal with large-scale and potential cross- border impacts is required. Special consideration needs to be given to permafrost areas and potential risks related to permafrost instabilities as well as large-scale flood events with impacts on overall river basins - these natural hazards have the potential to lead to large-scale and cross-border impacts.
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