Risks from alpine hazards represent human-environmental systems that are subject to constant change. This contribution focusses on change processes in the societal handling of mountain risks. In the course of recent social developments communication and participation in public issues are gaining importance. Accordingly, the handling of mountain risks must be shaped in a sustainable manner. Approximately from 1850 onwards, the historical development of the dealing with mountain risks in the Alps can be characterized by three paradigms that build upon each other. “Hazard protection” served as a paradigm for approximately 100 years. It was succeeded by the paradigm of “hazard management” in the second half of the 20th century. Currently, the paradigm of “risk management” is widely applied and it shapes the societal handling of mountain risks. Meanwhile, “Risk governance” is discussed as a future paradigm. Communication and participation are central elements in general risk governance frameworks. Here, the suitability of general risk governance frameworks to the specific context of mountain risks is evaluated. Hazard zone planning in South Tyrol serves as a case study therefore. The current communication structures on internal and external level are analysed and assed concerning their appropriateness to risk governance concepts. This is based on quantitative and qualitative empirical studies. Here, risk Governance is evaluated as a future-orientated concept that is also applicable to mountain risks. For the application of risk governance in a mountain risk context, existing administrative and communication structures have to be scrutinized and fundamentally adapted. For South Tyrol, improvements are proposed on two levels: direct improvements of communication in hazard zone planning, as well as fundamental adaptations of the organisation structures towards the application of risk governance. The core of the content of this contribution is made of four English articles. In order to ease the transfer of results to German speaking practitioners a German text interconnects and summarises the articles.