Understanding and Analyzing Natural Hazards Governance
- Brian GerberBrian GerberArizona State University
Governance is a complex, highly elastic term used in a wide range of settings which sometimes leads to ambiguity. As a result, defining natural hazards governance as a unique and specific construct is needed for conceptual clarity and analytic precision. At core, natural hazards governance pertains to two fundamental considerations: reducing risk and promoting resilience. While not always recognized as such in the hazards and disasters literature, risk reduction and resilience promotion are two pure public goods. But they are also highly complex public goods—amalgams of a series of distinct but interrelated public policy choices and the administrative systems that put those choices into effect.
To understand better a logic for defining and assessing natural hazards governance it is essential to consider it as a set of explicitly collective choices over the production of a complex of public goods aimed at addressing hazards risk reduction and promoting resilience within or across defined political jurisdictions. Those choices create frameworks permitting a set of authoritative actions (lawful and legitimate) to be stated and executed by governmental entities, by non-governmental agents on their behalf (in some form), or for goods and services to be jointly co-produced by governmental and non-governmental actors. Those collective choices in a given setting are influenced by the institutional structure of formal public policy decision-making, which itself reflects variations in the political efficacy of community members, competing interests and incentives over policy preferences, and level of extant knowledge and understanding of critical challenges associated with given hazards. Those formal collective choices are also reflective of a broader cultural context shaping norms of behavior and conception of the relationship between communities and hazards.