The Precautionary Principles of the Potential Risks of Compound Events in Danish Municipalities

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The risk of compound events describes potential weather and climate events in which the combination of multiple drivers and hazards consolidate, resulting in extreme socio-economic impacts. Compound events affecting exposed societies can therefore be deemed a crucial security risk. Designing appropriate preparation proves difficult, as compound events are rarely documented. This paper explores the understanding and practices of climate risk management related to compound events in specific Danish municipalities vulnerable to flood hazards (i.e., Odense, Hvidovre, and Vejle). These practices illuminate that different understandings of compound events steer risk attitudes and consequently decisions regarding the use of different policy instruments. Through expert interviews supported by policy documents, we found that the municipalities understand compound events as either a condition or situation and develop precautionary strategies to some extent. Depending on their respective geographical surroundings, they observe compound events either as no clear trend (Odense), a trend to be critically watched (Hvidovre), or already as a partial reality (Vejle). They perceive flood drivers and their combinations as major physical risks to which they adopt different tailor-made solutions. By choosing a bottom-up approach focusing on local governance structures, it demonstrated that the mismatch between responsibility and capacity and the ongoing separation of services related to climatic risks in the Danish municipality context need to be critically considered. The findings highlight that the complex challenge of compound events cannot be solved by one (scientific) discipline alone. Thus, the study advocates a broader inclusion of scientific practices and increased emphasis on local focus within compound event research to foster creative thinking, better preparation, and subsequently more effective management of their risks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number772629
JournalFrontiers in Climate
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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