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A new handbook highlights six steps to successful risk communication

40/2022, 31.10.2022

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) issue a joint publication

The Corona pandemic and heavy rain events have shown the importance of societal engagement with risks as well as preventive measures and behavioural recommendations. In order to support civil protection authorities and organisations in this important task, the BfR and the BBK are publishing a joint handbook on practical risk communication, which can be applied to various areas.

Handbook strengthens risk communication in civil protection

"Risk Communication - A Handbook for Practice" provides a clear introduction to risk communication, explains scientific and legal principles and contains checklists that help to develop strategies for risk communication.

"The experiences of the BfR in risk communication within consumer health protection, as well as derived procedures, can also be applied to civil protection. This makes the BfR and the BBK ideal partners for sharing proven concepts," says BfR President Professor Dr Dr Andreas Hensel.

"We want to support the citizens with their needs and requirements and thus strengthen their crisis resilience. To this end, it is important to see the population as a partner. This requires a dialogue with the population - we call it a security partnership. This can only be done through transparent and dialogue-oriented risk communication. So we are delighted that our joint handbook is able to make a valuable contribution in this regard and are very grateful to have found such a competent partner for this project in the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment," emphasises BBK President Ralph Tiesler.

Strategies in risk communication are tailored precisely

The handbook details how different risk communication techniques can be combined in order to then embed them in an overarching strategy. Based on this, the principles of successful risk communication are then described and it is explained how this can be achieved in practice. This includes

  • situational analyses,
  • definition of communication goals,
  • determination of target groups,
  • developing key messages,
  • a plan of action
  • as well as an ongoing and final evaluation.

Various press and public relations instruments such as publications, events, dialogue-based activities, as well as the use of digital formats and social media for risk communication, are presented. The handbook is supplemented by a series of info boxes and checklists that can be used to review and adapt your own strategies. The handbook concludes with a chapter on the legal framework for civil protection in Germany.

The handbook supports stakeholders in civil protection

The handbook is aimed at those responsible for civil protection and disaster assistance at municipality-level, those responsible for risk management and press and public relations within public authorities, as well as employees in companies, aid organisations and associations within civil security.

The handbook is available in print and digitally:

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The BfR advises the Federal Government and the States (‘Laender’) on questions of food, chemicals and product safety. The BfR conducts independent research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

About the BBK

The Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) is responsible for anchoring civil protection as the fourth pillar in the national security system alongside the police, the armed forces and services. This includes tasks in the areas of: self-protection, warning the population, protective structures, civil protection in accordance with the German Civil Defense and Disaster Relief Act (Gesetz über den Zivilschutz und die Katastrophenhilfe des Bundes, ZSKG), measures to protect health and measures to protect cultural assets.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


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