Challenges of Risk Governance: Coping with Climate Change

Speaker: Professor Ortwin Renn (University of Stuttgart)


Current societies are challenged by a number of pressing global systemic risks arising from global environmental change, in particular climate change. Responding adequately to these risks is a challenge for our world society in which national interests and different cultures conflict with efficient responses.

Governance of systemic risks requires strategies that address the complexity, scientific uncertainty, and sociopolitical ambiguity of these underlying relationships. However, attempts to address climate change have decoupled risk anticipation from sustainable and resilient risk management processes and structures. Furthermore, because the modernization process facilitates the emergence of plural knowledge and value claims this has led to multiple stakeholders implicated in the risk management process. This often includes a power-imbalance among stakeholders in decision making and communicative processes. Public participation has proven to be an important part and often key driver for successful and legitimate risk governance for advancing climate change policies. The various actors of society and the public at large can be important in providing local knowledge and experiences, informing decision making, especially with regard to uncertainty and ambiguity, and securing legitimacy for managing risk. Risk management and communication needs to address the four characteristics of systemic risks and develop appropriate instruments to deal with global, interconnected, stochastic and nonlinear risks.