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Volume 18, issue 4 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 1233-1246, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-1233-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Apr 2018

Research article | 27 Apr 2018

The role of minimum supply and social vulnerability assessment for governing critical infrastructure failure: current gaps and future agenda

Matthias Garschagen and Simone Sandholz Matthias Garschagen and Simone Sandholz
  • United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), UN Campus, Platz der Vereinten Nationen 1, 53113 Bonn, Germany

Abstract. Increased attention has lately been given to the resilience of critical infrastructure in the context of natural hazards and disasters. The major focus therein is on the sensitivity of critical infrastructure technologies and their management contingencies. However, strikingly little attention has been given to assessing and mitigating social vulnerabilities towards the failure of critical infrastructure and to the development, design and implementation of minimum supply standards in situations of major infrastructure failure. Addressing this gap and contributing to a more integrative perspective on critical infrastructure resilience is the objective of this paper. It asks which role social vulnerability assessments and minimum supply considerations can, should and do – or do not – play for the management and governance of critical infrastructure failure. In its first part, the paper provides a structured review on achievements and remaining gaps in the management of critical infrastructure and the understanding of social vulnerabilities towards disaster-related infrastructure failures. Special attention is given to the current state of minimum supply concepts with a regional focus on policies in Germany and the EU. In its second part, the paper then responds to the identified gaps by developing a heuristic model on the linkages of critical infrastructure management, social vulnerability and minimum supply. This framework helps to inform a vision of a future research agenda, which is presented in the paper's third part. Overall, the analysis suggests that the assessment of socially differentiated vulnerabilities towards critical infrastructure failure needs to be undertaken more stringently to inform the scientifically and politically difficult debate about minimum supply standards and the shared responsibilities for securing them.

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Despite the increased attention given to critical infrastructure resilience in the context of natural hazards and disasters discussions on the role of social vulnerability assessments and minimum supply considerations for governing critical infrastructure failures remain scarce. Based on a structured literature review the paper responds to the identified gaps by developing a heuristic model on the linkages between the three topics and sketches out recommendations for a future research agenda.
Despite the increased attention given to critical infrastructure resilience in the context of...
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