Managing coastal risks at the Wadden Sea: a societal perspective


Purpose: The trilateral Wadden Sea Region (WSR), extending from Den Helder in the Netherlands, along the German North Sea coast, to Esbjerg in Denmark, constitutes a unique but vulnerable coastal landscape. Vulnerability to environmental and societal risks is expected to increase in coming decades with encompassing new challenges such as demographic changes and conflicting uses of space, both on land and at sea. Meeting these challenges will require a shift toward an understanding of risk management as a social process, marking a significant departure from the dominant technical risk management paradigm. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: In practice, this paradigm shift requires participatory stakeholder engagement, bringing together multiple and diverse perspectives, interests and concerns. This paper aims to support the implementation and expansion of enhanced social processes in coastal risk management by presenting a case study of participatory risk management process. Implemented in collaboration with a trilateral stakeholder partnership, the authors present a mixed-method approach which encouraged a joint, deliberate approach to environmental and societal risks within an overall framework. Findings: The results enable the authors to deduce implications of participatory risk management processes for the WSR, wherein the partnership can act as a communicator and ambassador for an improved understanding of risk management as a social process. Originality/value: In this context, the trilateral dimension, discussed here for the first time in relation with coastal risk management processes in the WSR, is emphasized as an efficient level that offers room for enhanced participatory and negotiation processes that are crucial for enhanced risk management processes.
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