Environment and Human Security- a Paradigm Shift for Policy Science and Engineering

June 2, 2005, 4:00 p.m. (CEST)

Time: 6/2/05, 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Lecturer: Prof. Bogardi, Institute for Environment and Human Security, UN University Bonn
Venue: Pfaffenwaldring 61, Raum U1.003 (MML), Universität Stuttgart
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Two tendencies seem to redefine our approaches towards risk managementand disaster preparedness. One recent trend is quite subtle. The gradualshift of international attention and concern from a purely nationalapproach towards human security characterizes the last 15-20 years.Along with this development the so called 'soft security' concerns likedisaster hazards, land degradation, but also migration and uncontrolledurban growth have been attracting more and more interest. Thesetendencies have a longer time base; however, the last three decades havewitnessed an unparalleled growth of disaster losses and increase of thefrequency and magnitude of extreme events.Environmental threats to human security may necessitate a paradigm shiftin scientific concepts and subsequent engineering measures. Irrespectiveof spectacular infrastructural interventions and (at least temporary)improvements against natural hazards like floods, the failure ofconcepts controlling or mitigating the hazards can be observed on aglobal scale. There is a need to learn again to live with risks, ratherthan simply pursuing hazard elimination concepts followed by disastrousconsequences if the hazard surpasses the design value of engineeringmeasures.
Shifting the focus from the hazard to the impacted communities impliesthat their vulnerabilities should be assessed to serve as a startingpoint to conceive remedial and preparedness measures. Socialvulnerability concepts and ideas how to quantify these features ininterdisciplinary context will be presented. Ultimately, theintroduction of the recently established United Nations UniversityInstitute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) its mandate,scope and future plans will provide the institutional platform toimplement these goals.
UNU-EHS has been conceived and established in 2003 to address theenvironmental dimension of human security.
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