More Than a Potential Hazard – Approaching Risks from a Social-Ecological Perspective

Author: Carolin Völker, Johanna Kramm, Heide Kerber, Engelbert Schramm, Martina Winker and Martin Zimmermann
Year of Publication: 2017
Published: Sustainability. Special Issue “Social Ecology. State of the Art and Future Prospects” 9 (7), 1039

Risks have been classically understood as a probability of damage or a potential hazard resulting in appropriate management strategies. However, research on environmental issues such as pollutants in the aquatic environment or the impacts of climate change have shown that classical management approaches do not sufficiently cover these interactions between society and nature. There have been several attempts to develop interdisciplinary approaches to risk that include natural as well as social science contributions. In this paper, the authors aim at developing a social-ecological perspective on risk by drawing on the concept of societal relations to nature and the model of provisioning systems. This perspective is used to analyze four cases, pharmaceuticals, microplastics, semicentralized water infrastructures and forest management, with regard to risk identification, assessment and management. Finally, the paper aims at developing a perspective on risks which takes into account non-intended side-effects, system interdependencies and uncertainty.

pharmaceuticals, microplastics, semicentralized water infrastructures, forest management, provisioning system, normal operation

Völker, C.; Kramm, J.; Kerber, H.; Schramm, E.; Winker, M.; Zimmermann, M. (2017): More Than a Potential Hazard—Approaching Risks from a Social-Ecological Perspective. In: Sustainability. Special Issue “Social Ecology. State of the Art and Future Prospects”. 9 (7), 1039.