The weakest link : Governing the risk of floods and dam failure in Sweden

Sammanfattning: The effects of climate change are already being felt today, and future effects, which will be determined by the readiness and resolve of today’s world leaders, are fraught with high levels of complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and transboundary effects – characteristics of systemic risk. Since climate change is seen as a threat multiplier, the risks that might be impacted by climate change, such as floods and dam failure, will be affected by systemic risk characteristics as well. Recent literature on risk governance calls for a more inclusive approach to address the challenges of systemic risks. Sweden has adopted the Sendai Framework, which aims to reduce disaster risk and strengthen societal resilience through a more people-centered approach. Sweden can be expected to have the resources and institutional structures needed to be able to implement the framework at a high level. However, evaluations of recent crises have shown a discrepancy between what can be expected and actual performance. This thesis aims to increase the understanding of contextual barriers to and drivers of inclusive risk governance, with a focus on responsibilities, (mandated) collaboration, and stakeholder participation, as an approach to increase societal resilience against disaster and systemic risk. The aim is reached by studying flood-related systemic risks and their governance. Three distinct, qualitative case studies focusing on different aspects of the Swedish disaster risk reduction and risk governance systems in relation to the risk of floods and dam failure are the empirical foundation for the four papers that are appended in the thesis. The thesis concludes that there is a need for a change in how resilience is framed, as part of a paradigm shift to a discourse that views resilience as a measure of adaptive capacity, and a change in how systemic risks should be understood and governed, as part of a paradigm shift to an inclusive risk governance framework.

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