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Institut für Wasserbau - IWS

Selected Topics and International Network Lectures

16:00 Uhr
Prof. Bogardi, Institute for Environment and Human Security, UN University Bonn

Environment and Human Security: a Paradigm Shift for Policy, Science and Engineering

Two tendencies seem to redefine our approaches towards risk management and disaster preparedness. One recent trend is quite subtle. The gradual shift of international attention and concern from a purely national approach towards human security characterizes the last 15-20 years. Along with this development the so called ‘soft security’ concerns like disaster hazards, land degradation, but also migration and uncontrolled urban growth have been attracting more and more interest. These tendencies have a longer time base; however, the last three decades have witnessed an unparalleled growth of disaster losses and increase of the frequency and magnitude of extreme events. Environmental threats to human security may necessitate a paradigm shift in scientific concepts and subsequent engineering measures. Irrespective of spectacular infrastructural interventions and (at least temporary) improvements against natural hazards like floods, the failure of concepts controlling or mitigating the hazards can be observed on a global scale. There is a need to learn again to live with risks, rather than simply pursuing hazard elimination concepts followed by disastrous consequences if the hazard surpasses the design value of engineering measures.
Shifting the focus from the hazard to the impacted communities implies that their vulnerabilities should be assessed to serve as a starting point to conceive remedial and preparedness measures. Social vulnerability concepts and ideas how to quantify these features in interdisciplinary context will be presented. Ultimately, the introduction of the recently established United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) its mandate, scope and future plans will provide the institutional platform to implement these goals.
UNU-EHS has been conceived and established in 2003 to address the environmental dimension of human security.