Integrated risk management (IRM) is a central element in many of the risk-oriented planning guidelines used and applied by several federal offices such as the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP), the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It is also applied by cantons and organisations (e.g. Swiss National Platform for Natural Hazards PLANAT), and is described in a variety of publications.
Risk: It is a measure used to evaluate a hazard, and factors in the frequency or probability of an undesirable event, as well as the extent of the damage that it would cause.
Disaster risk: it includes risk of disaster to occur triggered by a natural hazard.
Disaster Risk Management: It is defined as a systematic process for the comprehensive treatment of risks. The elements of risk management are described in the following figure:
Integrated Disaster Risk Management: Frequently, integrated risk management is used only in connection with the cycle of measures that is depicted in the following diagram.
However, this fails to cover the aspects and meanings of the concept that are not shown explicitly in the diagram. The fundamental objective of integrated risk management (IRM) is to ensure that risks to people and their livelihoods are kept as low as possible or within acceptable bounds. Time and again, this raises the question of "how safe is safe enough?" – in other words, how much should be spent on measures to improve security for people and their livelihoods, and what should be accepted if an event were to occur?
Risk management is described as integrated risk management when four conditions are fulfilled:
Integrated risk management (IRM) is a proven general methodology for treating hazards and their related risks with appropriate actions in a systematic and comprehensive way that complies with the principles of sustainability. At the same time, IRM also expresses a certain mindset to addressing the challenges posed by the wide range of hazards and their risks: comprehensive, transparent, and comprehensible, as well as in cooperation with all relevant decision-makers, others concerned, and those who are affected. However, integrated risk management also implies a pragmatic flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, rather than dogmatically applying its elements and principles.
For further reading please refer to the Intergated Risk Managment brochures which has been produced by the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP):