Good risk communication is crucial for raising awareness among citizens and business
about the risks their countries face. However, many countries have seen their risk
communication tools fail in the past, leading to persistently low levels of risk awareness,
especially in the absence of recent disasters. This OECD report surveys current trends
in risk communication policies and practices across OECD and partner countries. It
seeks to understand why risk communication tools have failed and what OECD countries
can do to improve the effectiveness of their risk communication policies. Based on
an OECD-wide survey, the report evaluates the degree to which countries have used
risk communication tools to not only increase risk awareness, but to inform stakeholders
about potential preparedness and prevention measures they can take to boost their
resilience to future risks.
Governments’ risk communication needs to become more inclusive, involving citizens and other stakeholders actively in a two-way communication process and building partnerships with the private sector. This to ensure that risk information is well received and that it can be improved in line with citizens’ needs. It will also help citizens develop a shared understanding of risks and to maintain trust in their government’s ability to manage risks.
Risk communication should be grounded in up-to-date scientific evidence to ensure quality and accuracy. This can also help promote new risk communication tools for a more comprehensive and, ultimately, effective, risk communication.
Countries need to exploit new technology, including social media. Risk communication is characterised by uncertainty, by rapid changes and developments; it thus requires flexible communication tools and channels. Countries could use modern technology more effectively to issue warnings and interact about ongoing crises with the affected people. Two-way communication via interactive media also allows citizens to provide feedback that can help improve future risk communication policies and practices.
Countries need to focus more on prevention, informing stakeholders about what they can do to help reduce their risk exposure. Responding countries have all developed tools to communicate the potential risks in different parts of their countries. Often, this information is conveyed through easily accessible and easy-to-use tools, where individual stakeholders can view their exact location’s exposure to risk. However, this is not enough. Countries also need to communicate about actions individual stakeholders can take to reduce their risk exposure.