Understanding How Risk Perception Affects Nature-Based Solutions

Summary

Natural infrastructure represents an important alternative to traditional forms of
infrastructure such as sea walls and levees. However, infrastructure managers are often
influenced by perceived risks, including societal expectations and legal exposure, when
considering nature-based solutions. Increasing the acceptance of nature-based solutions
requires a better understanding of how risk perception factors into infrastructure decision
making.

Approach and Deliverables

We aim to identify opportunities to increase adoption of natural infrastructures
by understanding how risk perception factors into larger concepts of public
infrastructure, risk management, infrastructure design, and governance.

We plan to carry out three studies. The first will examine how social contracts between
governments and citizens relating to environmental risks and benefits have evolved over
time and will continue to evolve with a changing climate. This study will also examine how
social contracts may change when nature-based solutions are implemented. The second
study will analyze how the risk perceptions of designers and managers influence their
understanding and acceptance of nature-based approaches. The final study will identify
statutory and regulatory limitations related to legal risks for natural infrastructures and
assess opportunities to overcome these barriers.

Lead Researcher

Don Nelson, University of Georgia,
dnelson@uga.edu