Critical reflections on municipal risk and vulnerability analyses as decision support tools: the role of regulation regimes

Kirsti Russell Vastveit, Kerstin Eriksson, Ove Njå

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Risk and vulnerability analyses are a required decision support tool in processes to improve societal safety and crisis preparedness at national, regional and local levels in several European states. Analyses result in risk images, which are the stakeholders’ views of events that must be addressed in planning processes related to topics such as land use and crisis management. Hence, risk and vulnerability analyses are used to support decisions regarding which issue areas to prioritize, as well as to choose between alternatives. In Norway and Sweden, municipal risk and vulnerability analyses are mandated and described in regulations, laws and guidelines. This article examines how the two countries’ regulation regimes address, characterize and facilitate risk-based decision-making. We found that the Swedish regulation regime emphasizes use of risk and vulnerability analyses in decision-making regarding emergency preparedness. In Norway, this is also an important issue, but decision-making with regard to long-term and strategic planning is also emphasized. In both regulation regimes, decision-makers must determine on their own how they should use the analyses as a foundation for decision-making regarding emergency preparedness and societal safety. While the regulation regimes contain method and content prescriptions, they do not specify how criteria regarding desirable levels of preparedness and societal safety should be determined, nor who should be involved in such processes. These are challenges that should be addressed in regulation guidelines and in audits carried out by regional authorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-455
JournalEnvironment Systems and Decisions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Public Administration Studies

Free keywords

  • Decision-making
  • Municipalities
  • Regulation
  • Risk and vulnerability analysis


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