Today, the need to reduce the rise of disasters in cities is a priority for European governments (United Nation Strategy for Disaster reduction, 2007). Natural or industrial hazard identification is improving thanks to the mobilisation of the scientific community and the recent political awareness. Indeed, in developed urbanised countries, and in addition in cities shown as nod of economical and informational urban network, the impacts of natural or industrial disasters also produce collective damages. The examples of three French cities (Lyon, Nantes and Le Havre) illustrate how the ends of urban public policies generate huge contradictions in risk reduction strategy. Furthermore, it also shows how urban development objectives can create “urban risks”. I will explain my point by two outlines. First, risk is defined as social construction. Constructivism does not minimise effective disasters, but it explains the role of the historical urban settlement and the contemporary goals of local development. Secondly, both hazard identification and urban planning are described as a public policy. Drawing on theories of political agenda setting, hazard identification in urban planning is studied as a complex public policy hold by various stakeholders (either public than private) and crossed by different interests.
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