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Belgian National Risk Assessment

Emergency services at an oil depot
In 2018, the National Crisis Center (NCCN) coordinated a large-scale risk assessment for Belgium for the period 2018-2023. With this Belgian National Risk Assessment 2018-2023, the NCCN wants to identify and evaluate the major risks to which Belgium may be exposed in a structured and scientifically correct manner.

For this risk assessment, 100 experts from 40 different public organisations analysed the probability and impact of various risk scenarios that could occur in Belgium over the next five years. The scenarios were divided into four themes: natural risks, techno-economic risks, health risks and man-made risks (risks caused by human action and with malicious intent).

This national risk assessment gives an overview of the challenges we (may) face in Belgium. For the NCCN, this risk assessment is an important basis for national emergency planning.

How was this national risk assessment made? 

The risk assessment was conducted in four steps:

  1. Preparation of a list of scenarios to be evaluated.
  2. Expert evaluation of the probability and impact of the different scenarios.
  3. For the scenarios subject to climate change, the experts also estimated the impact of climate change on the probability and impact of these scenarios.
  4. Classification of evaluated scenarios by theme and identification of key risks.

How did experts assess the probability and impact of these scenarios? 

The experts assigned a probability score on a scale of 1 (unlikely) to 5 (very likely) to each scenario.

To further nuance the analysis, each scenario was also assigned an impact score within four categories: impact on people, society, environment and economy. For each of these categories, the experts assigned a score ranging from 1 (very small impact) to 5 (catastrophic impact). The total impact was calculated based on the results for these four categories. 

  • Human impact: number of deaths, number of injured, number of sick people, number of people evacuated.
  • Social impact: disruption of vital services, negative press coverage.
  • Impact on the environment: area affected (km²), damage to the ecosystem, possible degree of recovery. 
  • Financial impact: potential financial loss, rise in unemployment, reduction in number of active companies.

How should I interpret these results?

For each key risk from the Belgian national risk assessment, you can see the impact score and the probability score assigned by the experts. The impact score is in the upper semicircle, the probability score in the lower semicircle. In this circle you can see the relationship between the impact scores on people, society, the environment and the economy. This national risk assessment gives an overview of the challenges we (may) face in Belgium. This risk assessment is one of the elements that can contribute to the national emergency planning policy.

Please note that the results only give an indication of the impact and probability of the risk for the period 2018-2023. You can never rule out a scenario with catastrophic consequences. In other words, a risk with a low probability score can still occur in our country, and a risk with a low impact score could have a major impact.

Results

The experts identified a total of 32 key risks, within 10 overarching themes. The results of this analysis can be found per risk.