Natural hazards are a part of Swiss habitat. In 1997, the Swiss Federal Council founded the national platform PLANAT, with the aim to improve prevention.
The national platform for natural hazards PLANAT is a governmental structure. It consists of twenty specialists coming from all regions of Switzerland.
- Federal Central Government
- research community
- professional associations
- private sector
- insurance companies
The Federal Council appoints them for periods of four years. The next elections will be held at the end of 2011.
The president is nominated by the members and elected by the Swiss Federal Council. The members elect a committee constituted by 6 persons, which prepares the plenary sessions of the commission. It is supported and backed by a secretariat with 2 half time employees, based in Bern.
Temporary working groups are established on project basis. The size of the groups varies between 2 and 5 members. As per today three working groups are active on the topics "Information and Communication" and "International".
The commission wants to avoid a duplication of efforts in the area of protection against natural hazards and make better use of existing synergies. PLANAT ’s opinion is that protection against natural hazards may not be limited any longer to the protection of individual values within some limited scopes of responsibility against certain kinds of hazards. Therefore a paradigm change from the protection against hazards to a new risk culture is needed.
Motivated by a motion, which was filed in the federal parliament by the former Councilor of States Hans Danioth in 1999, the Swiss Federal Council (Swiss government) commissioned PLANAT to develop a comprehensive and interlinked strategy to improve the protection against natural hazards. It also intends to ensure comparable security standards throughout Switzerland based on extensive risk management. The aim is to protect people and their livelihood as well as important material assets.
Up to now, PLANAT has completed the first step of developing a comprehensive and interlinked strategy for improved protection against natural hazards, and the second step of analyzing the current situation and proposing an action plan with measures. The third step (action plan 2005-2008) as well as the fourth step (action plan 2009-2011) will include implementing these measures.
Third step: Implementation of the action plan 2005-2008
The third step constitutes the present activities of PLANAT until 2008 and will include the implementation of the concrete measures of the action plan. The strategy according to this action plans fits to the main strategic goals of the Hyogo Framework for action 2005 – 2015.
The focal points of the action plan for the 2005 - 2008 stage are as follows:
Further development of the "risk policy for natural hazards"
There are currently a series of different methods and tools for dealing with risks from natural hazard. The term "risk policy" means a universally valid model for dealing with security problems. It was developed in the technical field and should now find reinforced entrance in the field of natural hazards as "risk policy for natural hazards".
Integrated risk management recognizes risks of natural hazards based on this risk policy, allowing risk evaluation and reduction using the optimized combination of technical, economic, social and ecological protection measures. Specific guidelines as well as training and further training will help consolidate integrated risk management. The "risk policy for natural hazards" will be further developed by specific studies.
Risk dialogue and responsibilities:
A wide realized dialogue should strengthen a risk culture of risk awareness supported by all players. Also responsibilities, structure and schedule of organizations on risk aware management of natural hazards should be optimized. Not regulated responsibilities for certain fields of natural hazards (p. ex. extreme temperatures, storm) should be clarified.
The development of a risk communication concept is one of the current projects under this focal point.
In future, risks of natural hazards and invested resources for measures of protection should be systematically recorded and evaluated on an on-going basis in order to check the cost-effectiveness ratio.
A global report of these activities, divided into 15 projects, was established and given to the Federal Council at the middle of 2008.
In response to the report from PLANAT, the Federal Council decided at its meeting on 6 March 2009 to continue the work based on an action plan for 2009-2011 and to remedy existing loopholes in the principles and instruments.
The required funding, amounting to around CHF 800'000 per annum, will be made available by the federal departments involved (DETEC, DDPS, DHA ,DEA, DFA) within the limits of the resources available to them.
Fourth step: Implementation of the action plan 2009-2011
The key elements in the action plan for the phase from 2009-2011 are as follows:
- Integrated risk management (including fixing standard protection goals, providing practical guidelines, devising a range of basic and advanced training courses, conducting a preliminary study on a pilot project).
- Adjustments and additions to principles and instruments (in particular additions and adjustments to instruments for risk analysis and evaluation, filling in gaps in knowledge, identification of ways to coordinate spatial and protection planning).
- Responsibilities and risk dialogue (in particular a review of responsibilities at federal level from the standpoint of integrated risk management, introduction of a change management process and of a broad-based risk dialogue).
- Performance measurement at a strategic level (in particular regular and systematic recording of the risks of natural hazards, special analysis of major incidents,
- regular and systematic recording of the resources used for protection against natural hazards, development at a strategic level of a performance measurement concept with a set of indicators).
- International capacity building in SDC partner countries, integration into the international system.