1 January 2012


Bernice Lee OBE

Executive Director, Hoffmann Centre for Sustainable Resource Economy
Felix Preston

Felix Preston

Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Research Director, Energy, Environment and Resources

with Gemma Green


  • The frequency of high-impact, low-probability (HILP) events in the last decade such as Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster and the nuclear crisis and tsunami in Japan, signals the emergence of a new 'normal' – the beginning of a crisis trend.
  • This report argues that governments and businesses remain insufficiently prepared to manage HILP crises and shoulder their economic, social and humanitarian consequences.
  • The report sets out the economic costs of HILP events and how the impacts of a shock spread across sectors and countries in today's globalized world. 
  • The report explores two critical dimensions of the decision-making environment during a crisis – omnipresent questions of scientific and technological uncertainty, and the competing economic and political interests of key stakeholders. 
  • Effective messaging and communications have never been more important in the management of high-impact events. The report draws on systemic analysis of social media to understand how the public discourse is shaped; highlights the window of opportunity to influence media messaging; and draws lessons for how the media should handle scientific uncertainties.