Risorse bibliografiche
Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoria
Risorsa bibliografica facoltativa
Scheda Riassuntiva
Anno Accademico 2020/2021
Tipo incarico Dottorato
Docente Menoni Scira
Cfu 5.00 Tipo insegnamento Monodisciplinare

Corso di Dottorato Da (compreso) A (escluso) Insegnamento

Programma dettagliato e risultati di apprendimento attesi
  1. Concept

Events entailing multiple phenomena co-occurring at the same time or triggering one another have been considered for long time the exception rather than the rule. More recently, we are increasingly witnessing hazards that are clustered in time and space, more frequently than one may think. There is an urgent need to advance in this field, in order to upgrade our disaster risk mitigation capacity. Climate change is increasing the complexity of this challenge as it is creating unprecedented threats in some regions (eg. Typhoons in the Mediteraneean regions and hurricanes far away from the Atlantic belt) and all new threats, such as sea level rise and increased heat waves, but is also modifying the pattern of hazards that depend on meteorological factors, such as storms, forest fires, floods and even biological threats such as new types of infections. The increased complexity of cities and human settlements in general have made na-techs more frequent or more frequently recognized than was the case in 1992 (Showalter  & Fran Myers, 1992), when the term was introduced for the first time on the basis of an in depth investigation of technological accidents that had occurred in the USA in the previous decade. An important reason for this is the division among disciplines studying and developing models for different hazards. The course is aiming at overcoming sectoral approaches to risk assessment, risk prevention and management.

A key underpinning of the course is that any type of disaster risk mitigation, climate change adaptation and biological threat management measure needs to be conceived and monitored across relevant spatial and temporal scales. As for the spatial scale, some type of interventions, such as buildings vulnerability reduction, are certainly local, however the decisions related to what areas to privilege with initial investments must be taken at larger scales, considering a comparative analysis among regions and municipalities. As for the temporal scale, some interventions make sense and are possible in the pre-impact phase, thinking of an extreme event impact, whilst others are easier to accept in the aftermath of a disaster (for example relocation). A crucial aspect that is basilar for the proposed approach, is that risk analysis and assessments must be tightly connected to different types of decisions in terms of mitigation and adaptation through the bridging risk assessment process. This means that certain types of measures are possible to conceive only at the condition that certain risk factors have been thoroughly investigated (for example systemic, social or economic vulnerability) and in the meantime, some kinds of measures must be based on ad hoc and tailored risk assessment outputs. The linkage between methods and models of hazard and risk analyses and mitigation and adaptation measures is of paramount importance in the case of areas exposed to multiple hazards and therefore requiring more advanced risk assessment models, given that such hazards may occur in the same time frame, slightly delayed or over longer periods of time. The additional complexity posed by multiple occurrences and damage due to multiple sources in systems that are also interacting at multiple spatial and temporal levels, requires that such linkage is clarified and the procedure to establish a fruitful risk assessment process be framed in such a way that it can be applied with the needed flexibility in different territorial contexts and in cases of diverse combination of threats and exposed assets and sectors. Such linkages will be at the core of the course and will inform also the practical part that will be proposed to the attendants.

In order to do so the course is addressing three main challenges  that are interconnected: (i) enhanced definition and methods for hazard and risk assessment that permit to consider not only one hazard and risk at a time but also interconnected and co-occurring threats, (ii) strengthening the connection between disciplinary perspectives on disaster risk reduction showing the many overlapping and common concepts, methods and models used by different disciplines to deal with hazard and risk assessment for different type of phenomena and threats (iii) proposing methods and processes to improve the uptake of knowledge and assessment of risks in an integrated fashion supporting decision making and intervention in the field.


First the course will provide an overview of the state of the art in risk modelling grounding on the more recent and agreed upon internationally definition of risk, that has been evolving in the last years and now recognized in a number of official referential documents as the function of a number of variables, including hazard, exposure, vulnerability and coping capacity (UNDRR Glossary and Guidelines for National Risk Assessment).

Here is the second issue to be tackled, referring to the modelling of multi-hazards occurring within a short time frame. The classification of Malamud and Gill (2014, 2016) provides a useful starting to consider for modelling purposes complemented by recent studies related to different consequences of climate change beyond temperature rise, such as modified trajectories and timing of anticyclones and depressions, on a number of hazards as listed in a comprehensive study recommending future research areas (Menoni and Margottini, 2012). Furthermore, the dynamic aspect of such interactive changes will be also considered as extreme events may change the conditions of the landscape or the built-up environment, so that the susceptibility to certain hazards and the vulnerability to them significantly increased (e.g. post wildfire landslides and floods) creating a loop that becomes difficult to contrast. As for enchained events the situation in terms of models availability is still mixed. For some hazards, such as the relation between slope erosion, landslides and floods such models are in a developmental stage, even though certainly more advanced than in the past (Radice et al., 2016). As for phenomena that are independent from each other but occurring in the same time frame, issues of combined effects on the ground must be taken into consideration. This requires the modelling of the impact given different phenomena but affecting the same territory, characterized by given exposure, physical and systemic vulnerability levels. A very explanatory example that will be thoroughly analyzed of such compounded events is the snowstorm and the seismic shake that occurred in Central Italy in January 2017 that produced combined effects on critical infrastructures (power and transportation) determining a long blackout and the isolation of entire settlements. How different phenomena reveal differential aspects of vulnerability and coping capacity will be presented as resulting from initial pioneering studies discussing how current methodologies should evolve to better support for example rescue services and interveners.

During the course due attention will be payed to the risk assessment process as discussed by Guagenti and Petrini (2017) and also Aven (2011 & 2012). The risk assessment process requires that multiple stakeholders that have a say on the final outcome in terms of risk acceptability and on desirable protection levels are involved in the assessment and provide criteria to rank the various risks and to prioritize them against other social demands and concerns (such as investment needed in education or health for example). The conditions at which the risk assessment process takes place, its dynamics and the way in which scientific evidence and analysis is embedded and discussed, have not captured until now enough attention on the side of the scientific and practitioners communities. Our course will address this important transitional phase between the analysis as far as it can be maintained “objective” and consider the physical and situational context of potential threats, including those deriving by climatic changing conditions, and the decision making process itself that stems from considerations of available budgets, political and social pressures. In fact, there are backward loops between risk assessment and analysis as pressures from governmental agencies, the arrangements of risk governance are influencing what is chosen to be considered as relevant indicators and parameters in the risk analysis itself. The loop is particularly challenging as the same risk analysis often grounds on incomplete knowledge regarding different aspects of both phenomena, especially when combined in multi-hazard chains, and impacts. Some uncertainties can be measured in terms of probabilities or likelihood of given occurrences in time and space, some others derive from epistemic uncertainty or ignorance and require further advancement in knowledge before they can be expressed probabilistically.

In this regard, as shown in figure 1, the course will also focus on methods and tools to create positive monitoring and learning loops that permit to assess overtime if adopted risk reduction measures are actually implemented as intended, and what are the actual positive impacts in terms of saved losses after real events, near misses and large scale exercises and simulations.

The third challenge that will be considered in the course refers to the types of outputs that are needed as a result of multi-hazards and multi-risks assessment so as to be more usable and useful for a variety of parties involved and with differential levels of responsibilities in risk management and climate change adaptation.  In this regard it must be noted that there is not standardizable unique output that can be derived from the same figures of risk or from the same model utilized for assessing multi-hazards and multi-risks. In fact, depending on the purpose of the stakeholder and on its direct or indirect responsibility in risk management, different outputs can be envisaged and also different formats for representing the same output. Many tools are already available in the market for the purpose of representing the results of risk analyses and scenarios, many more have been developed in EU funded projects. The issue now is to understand and propose more effective ways in which those interfaces can be applied in a more coherent and less fragmented way, so as to constitute a referential guidance given objectives and risk assessment needs of different stakeholders and parties involved. Having in mind that the final objective is to smooth the risk assessment process and to lead to more transparent decisions on risk mitigation and adaptation based on the best available science and on knowledge in action acquired on different types of mitigation measures and risk reduction strategies.


  1. Objectives of the course

Whilst it is important to understand how phenomena and their impacts are interconnected over the temporal scale, equally important is to grasp the spatial scales at which they interact and produce combined effects. Following Turner et al. (2003) we will discuss through case studies how incidents that may be considered local as for their occurrence may produce effects over much larger areas and how for some assets, in particular critical infrastructures, vulnerabilities emerge only when considering systemic interconnections developing at regional, national or event global scale. Modelling interactions at multiple spatial scales of both phenomena and impacts requires a revised framework for addressing the individual components of risk so as to be able combine impacts that occur at different levels and for different sectors.

Similarly to what occurs for spatial scales, also the temporal phases of the so called disaster cycle will be very carefully analysed both conceptually and practically, as there may be multiple occurrences and therefore the decision about when an emergency can be declared over, when recovery and reconstruction actually start must be taken considering complex conditions. Depending on the time perspective one takes, longer or shorter, multi-hazardous phenomena and localities that are hotspots of hazards must be analysed and managed differently. One phase that has been privileged until recently is emergency, when the complexity of developing situational awareness is certainly very large; however for risk mitigation and adaptation also other phases need attention, in particular the pre-impact phase, the one in which prevention can be planned and programmed without significant time constraints and pressure, and the recovery and reconstruction phases. The latter has been made the object of a specific target by the Sendai Agreement, as it has been widely recognized that it represents a unique opportunity to reduce pre-event vulnerabilities and learn from experience nurturing the resilience of affected communities. However the recovery phase, skewed between the end of emergency and the full reconstruction has received less attention, even though it is equally crucial for achieving the objective of “build back better” as it is when decisions regarding the future of the affected area and initial actions are taken. An important aspect that is often neglected is that risk must be re-assessed in the recovery phase as the area for which pre-event mitigation and adaptation plans were designed may have been dramatically disrupted and modified by the same disaster (Atun, 2014).

It has been often suggested that cities and megacities are more prone to multiple interconnected threats because of the concentration of assets including hazardous ones that can trigger na-techs. Whilst this is certainly true, the course will tackle also other territorial configuration, such as small islands or mountain areas that albeit less densely populated can be exposed to multiple hazards. The relevance of considering different contexts stems also from the different coping capacity and vulnerabilities, as the potential for damage and losses must be balanced against the response ad recovery capacity of a city/region/nation. Through the appropriate selection of case studies, the course will show how the modelling and the risk assessment process and decision about appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures must be tailored to different territorial contexts, given the pattern of urbanization, the distribution and the trends of residential and visiting populations, the geomorphological and climatic settings.

Our course is aimed at helping attendants to develop an understanding of the needed framework for treating multi-hazards and multi risks not only in the pre-event phase, but also providing tools and means to re-assess hazards and risks in the aftermath of an extreme events, so as to consider to what extent risk reduction and adaptation measures that had been thought before are still viable and especially useful, given the changed risk conditions. Our course proposes a much more dynamic conceptualization and operationalization of hazard and risk assessment models to be applied in contexts that are complex because of being exposed to multiple threats and of the systemic interconnection among assets, sectors to which the latter pertain, and people using and producing the latter.


Coherently with the main concept of the course, the course will be structured in 7 lessons each, dealing with different aspects of risk evaluation and management. Assessment methods will regard economic, social, territorial and urban aspects that need to be considered in a systemic and comprehensive fashion. The whole concept of integrating risk prevention to sustainability will be considered, and the need to overcome strictly sectoral approach will be discussed. Lessons will be focusing on multi-risk environments, highlighting the challenges and the experimental models used to assess cascading and enchained hazards and risks. Lessons will comprise a more conceptual and theoretical talk of a couple of hours to familiarize with specific aspects and issues related to the type of hazards and enchained both hazards and impacts that may be sustained in order to then analyse case studies provided by literature or previous research and real cases brought by practitioners that will provide insight into problems they encounter in real life problems and in they everyday activities. In some cases such real life problems have been developed in a joint fashion with public agencies, public administrations responsible of crisis management and/or risk prevention.

Note Sulla Modalità di valutazione

Attendants will be offered the opportunity to test their level of understanding of what has been presented in practice on a simulated case that will be proposed by the teachers, and they will be guided towards the operational steps that are required to translate theory and experiences acquired from different sources into an application in an area that will be defined based on its being exposed to multiple threats and for which a good dataset is available or easily accessible. The application part will be held in the form of workshops between the PhD candidates, the teachers and the invited practitioners and may constitute the basis for further work and study usable in publications or for research purposes (for example to be included in attendants’ own research development). The result of this practical activity jointly with a brief interview on its content and the overall theoretical achievement of the course will constitute the basis for the final evaluation.

Intervallo di svolgimento dell'attività didattica
Data inizio
Data termine

Calendario testuale dell'attività didattica

The following lessons have been foreseen (subject to changes due to intervening problems or issues as the time delay is rather long between the publication of the program and its implementation. However the spirit of the course will not change and changes will be communicated to the audience).

  • Scira Menoni (DABC) Introduction to the course. In the introductory lesson attendants will familiarize with state of the art definition of terms such as: hazard, exposure, vulnerability, resilience and beyond: Recent policies and guidance to encourage risk management integrated to climate change adaptation and sustainable development, considering also the implications for the coming EU Research Program Horizon Europe. Key topics and aspects that are debated at the international level will be considered.
  • Daniela Molinari (DICA) Developing integrated approaches to flood modelling for different sectors from agriculture to dwellings. Any risk assessment that aims at developing a comprehensive analysis of what may be the impact on multiple sectors at relevant spatial scales (in this case meso and micro scales) must consider differences among sectors (agriculture, dwellings, industries, commercial, infrastructures). Each have their specificities and require and understanding of what may be the damage, how they can be evaluated and estimated.
  • Francesco Ballio and Scira Menoni (DICA-DABC) Na-tech in flood prone areas: floods triggering technological accidents in hazardous installations. When talking about cascading and enchained incidents and pheonomena the case of na-tech is particularly relevant, that is a technological accident that is triggered by a natural hazard. In the lesson the case of floods will be considered with relevant case studies. In addition a presentation on some emblematic cases of na-techs due to earthquakes will be provided and discussed. The modelling of na-techs is particularly complex. Methods and tools to try doing so will be proposed.
  • Davide Manca (DiCHEM) Na techs and domino effects in hazardous installations and in hazmat transportation. Transferring risk assessment concepts to the data management in the case of the Covid 19 pandemic: supporting ICU considering multiple crisis management factors.
  • Maddalena Buffoli (DABC) and Chiara Vicentini (University of Ferrara) Health and the urban environment: challenges of assessment and management. Modern urban planning that is considered as a key instrument for non-structural risk mitigation in many fields, including natural and technological hazards, climate change adaptation, is rooted in a tradition dating back to the XIX century when epidemiological and hygiene concerns for the fast industrializing cities were raised and originated important legislative and city management reforms. In the more recent years, the link between epidemiological studies and urban planning has been less central, focusing in particular on the effects of pollution and some kind of environmental contaminant with the health of citizens. With the Covid 19 crisis clearly the connection has been brought up again on the agenda of mayors, city managers and urban communities. In the lesson the real novelty of measures that have been put in place to contrast the SARS COV 2 spread will be discussed against historic instances of pandemic and epidemic management in cities. Lesson for today will be drawn, considering how such threat should be embedded in in general risk prevention plans, in sustainable development of cities and neighborhood, considering the evident link that many scholars have pointed out between climate change and the increased probability of new infections jumping from other species to humans.


Mix Forme Didattiche
Tipo Forma Didattica Ore didattiche
laboratorio informatico
laboratorio sperimentale
laboratorio di progetto

Informazioni in lingua inglese a supporto dell'internazionalizzazione
Insegnamento erogato in lingua Inglese
Disponibilità di materiale didattico/slides in lingua inglese
Disponibilità di libri di testo/bibliografia in lingua inglese
Possibilità di sostenere l'esame in lingua inglese
Disponibilità di supporto didattico in lingua inglese

Note Docente
References Aven T., Foundational Issues in Risk Assessment and Risk Management, Risk Analysis, 32:10, 2012 ESPON, GEOSPECS, European Perspective on Specific Types of Territories, Final Report Version 20/12/2012 Guagenti E., V. Petrini, Probability does not exist: some considerations on seismic risk mitigation, Bollettino di Geofisica Teorica ed Applicata, 58:2, 2017 Gill, J.C., Malamud, B.D., 2016. Hazard Interactions and interaction networks (cascades) within multi-hazard methodologies, Earth System Dynamics 7, 659 Menoni S., C. Margottini. Inside Risk: a strategy for sustainable risk mitigation, Springer-Verlag, Italy, 2014 Radice A., L Longoni, M Papini, D Brambilla, V Ivanov, Generation of a design flood-event scenario for a mountain river with intense sediment transport, Generation of a Design Flood-Event Scenario for a Mountain River with Intense Sediment Transport, Water 8:59 Showalter P, Fran Myers M., Natural disasters as the cause of technological emergencies: a review of the decade 1980-1989, Natural Hazard Research and Applications Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, 1992. Turner B.L., Kasperson R.E., Matson P.A., McCarthy J.J., Corell R.W., Christensen L., Eckley N., Kasperson J.X., Luers A., Martello M.L., Polsky C., Pulsipher A., Schiller A., "A framework for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science," in PNAS, 100 (14): 8074-8079, 2003, see www.pnas.org.
schedaincarico v. 1.6.5 / 1.6.5
Area Servizi ICT