Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Identifying and Managing Uncertainty in Governance of Climate-Related Risk: Lessons From an Arctic Society

Eirik Albrechtsena and Siri Holenb

Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.


The Arctic experience climate changes at a much higher pace than the rest of the world which also impacts societal safety in the settlement in Longyearbyen. To deal with natural hazards in the age of climate change a range of measures have been implemented. Uncertainty, i.e. a state, even partial, of deficiency of information related to, understanding or knowledge of an event, its consequence, or likelihood (ISO31000), is predominant in dealing with natural hazards and societal safety in the age of climate change. Climate prognoses are uncertain by their inherent variability and by the choice of level of expected greenhouse gas emissions. Other uncertainties are related to lack of knowledge and experiences related to types of natural hazards and lack of knowledge of the effects of risk reducing measures. The paper 1) provides a categorization of sources to uncertainty in different steps in risk governance both for short-term climate disaster handling and long-term climate adaptation and 2) discusses approaches to manage the identified sources to uncertainty. A framework for risk governance is used in the categorization. Sources to and handling of uncertainty is found in all parts of risk governance: framing, assessment, decision-making and communication. The paper is based on a three-day workshop about uncertainty in risk governance of climate-related risk in Longyearbyen at the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard at 78 degrees North.

Keywords: Uncertainty, Arctic, Snow avalanche, Risk governance, Climate change, Climate change adaptation.

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