The Promise of Security

  • Elena PedeEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Geography book series (BRIEFSGEOGRAPHY)


The chapter is an introduction to the challenging period we live in, characterised by the constant reminder of the unpredictability of catastrophic climate events, terroristic attacks, economic crisis, or mass failures of infrastructure systems. At the same time, we are witnessing our planet “shrinking” because of events that generate consequences that have global impacts (e.g. Chernobyl, global warming, 9/11 terrorist attacks, the financial crisis of 2008, etc.). The nature of contemporary risks is unprecedented in terms of their spatial, temporal and potential impact and the traditional categories to control and measure risks are no longer valid. In this context, there has been an evolution of the terms risk and disaster that has enhanced the interest of several academic disciplines; in particular, a new debate has challenged the social science tradition. To face hazards that escape the logic of control, the challenge is to find new ways of relating risks to decisions and practices. The different paragraphs explore how disasters have changed over the years, the evolution of the concept of control embodied in planning for risk in dealing with today’s challenges and the key issues of the concepts of vulnerability and risk. The last paragraph concludes the chapter by showing the implications of the world risk society introduced by Ulrich Beck.


Natural disasters Risk Vulnerability Uncertainty World risk society, disaster risk reduction 


  1. Adams H, Adger WN (2013) The contribution of ecosystem services to place utility as a determinant of migration decision-making. Environ Res Lett 8:015006. Scholar
  2. Adger WN (2006) Vulnerability. Glob Environ Change 16:268–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beck U (1992) Risk society. Towards a new modernity. SAGE Publications Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Beck U (2009) Critical theory of world risk society: a cosmopolitan vision. Constellations 16:3–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Below R, Wirtz A, Guha-Sapir D (2009) Disaster category classification and peril terminology for operational purposes. CRED, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  6. Birkland TA (2004) Introduction risk, disaster, and policy in the 21st century. Am Behav Sci 48:275–280. Scholar
  7. Cantelli F, Kodate N, Krieger K (2010) Questioning world risk society: three challenges for research on the governance of uncertainty. Glob PolicyGoogle Scholar
  8. CRED (2017) Annual disaster statistical review 2016 - the numbers and trends. Center for research on the epidemiology of disasters (CRED), BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  9. Cutter SL, Finch C (2008) Temporal and spatial changes in social vulnerability to natural hazards. Proc Natl Acad Sci 105:2301–2306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dominey-Howes D (2018) Hazards and disasters in the Anthropocene: some critical reflections for the future. Geosci Lett 5:7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eakin H, Luers AL (2006) Assessing the vulnerability of social-environmental systems. Annu Rev Env Resour 31:365–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gunder M, Hillier J (2007) Problematising responsibility in planning theory and practice: on seeing the middle of the string? Prog Plan 68:57–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Holling CS (1973) Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 4(1):1–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. IPCC (1995) IPCC second assessment - climate change 1995Google Scholar
  15. Jarvis DS (2007) Risk, globalisation and the state: a critical appraisal of Ulrich Beck and the world risk society thesis. Glob Soc 21:23–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jha MK (2010) Natural and anthropogenic disasters – vulnerability, preparedness and mitigation. Springer, BerlinCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McCarthy JJ, Canziani OF, Leary NA, et al (2001) Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability: contribution of working group II to the third assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  18. Pelling M (1999) The political ecology of flood hazard in urban Guyana. Geoforum 30:249–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Prince SH (1920) Catastrophe and social change, based upon a sociological study of the Halifax disaster. Columbia University, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  20. Quarantelli EL (2000) Disaster planning, emergency management and civil protection: the historical development of organized efforts to plan for and to respond to disasters. Preliminary papers 301Google Scholar
  21. Rose A, Liao SY (2005) Modeling regional economic resilience to disasters: a computable general equilibrium analysis of water service disruptions*. J Reg Sci 45:75–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Smith K (2009) Environmental hazards: assessing risk and reducing disaster, 5 edn. Routledge, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Turner BL, Kasperson RE, Matson PA et al (2003) A framework for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science. Proc Natl Acad Sci 100:8074–8079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. UNDP (2004) Reducing disaster risk, a challenge for developmentGoogle Scholar
  25. UNESCO (1972) Report of consultative meeting of experts on the statistical study of natural hazards and their consequencesGoogle Scholar
  26. UNISDR (2004) Living with risk. A global review of disaster reduction initiativesGoogle Scholar
  27. Vale LJ, Campanella TJ (2005) The resilient city: how modern cities recover from disaster. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. White GF (1945) Human adjustment to floods: a geographical approach to the flood problem in the United States. University of Chicago, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  29. Wisner B (2004) At risk: natural hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters. Psychology PressGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and PlanningPolitecnico di TorinoTorinoItaly

Personalised recommendations