Managing and Reducing Social Vulnerabilities

This white paper of the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) focusses on five critical infrastructures related to social vulnerabilities.

“This White Paper on ‘Managing and Reducing Social Vulnerabilities: from Coupled critical Infrastructures’ is the second in which we publish recommendations for the risk governance of a particular problem field. We have chosen to focus on five infrastructures: electric power supply, gas supply, urban water supply and waste water treatment, rail transport and systems for general information and communication services. These share a number of similarities: all involve distributed complex physical networks, are organised along similar value chains with elements embedded within the socio-political-economic framework and are subject to significant and continually evolving risk-shaping factors and contextual changes.

We follow our look at the individual infrastructures by assessing their characteristics (including their levels of interdependence with other infrastructures), their criticality and the adequacy of their risk governance. From this assessment we conclude that, at least in much of Europe and North America, the electric power and ICT infrastructures are both highly critical and suffer from inadequate risk governance. (We acknowledge that such a conclusion may be different for other parts of the World.) We offer, additionally, some suggestions for areas in which further study may be needed before definitive policy recommendations can be made. ”

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