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Obligation or Innovation: Can the EU Floods Directive Be Seen as a Tipping Point Towards More Resilient Flood Risk Management? A Case Study from Vorarlberg, Austria

Institute of Mountain Risk Engineering, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, 1180 Vienna, Austria
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Sustainability 2019, 11(19), 5505; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11195505
Received: 2 August 2019 / Revised: 18 September 2019 / Accepted: 1 October 2019 / Published: 4 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Human Geography and Social Sustainability)
Environmental change is subject to discussion among scientists, practitioners, and policymakers. As increasing threats to both environment and society are on the agenda, alternative management approaches are gaining importance. This paper focuses on the influence of policy changes on flood risk management. There is evidence that shifts in settlement patterns and population growth might influence the dynamics of flood damage and loss. There is increased pressure to intensify land use, but also to keep free spaces for hazard mitigation and adaptation. In this paper, we focus on new regulative and management approaches associated with the implementation of the European (EU) Floods Directive in Austria. The concept of tipping points, which are defined as turning points for system change, has been applied. Based on semi-structured interviews we evaluate whether or not the implementation of the EU Floods Directive has triggered a system change in flood risk management. Our results show that triggers for change are past flood events and a general need for action rather than the implementation of the directive itself. Changes related to the EU Floods Directive are likely to happen in the long-term; however, these cannot yet be determined. The main challenges are associated with transparency and communication between policymakers and the affected society. So far, the requirements of the first policy cycle of the directive have been fulfilled. The second policy cycle will show further outcomes and potential needs. View Full-Text
Keywords: EU Floods Directive; flood risk management; risk-based approach; tipping points; Austria EU Floods Directive; flood risk management; risk-based approach; tipping points; Austria
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Rauter, M.; Thaler, T.; Attems, M.-S.; Fuchs, S. Obligation or Innovation: Can the EU Floods Directive Be Seen as a Tipping Point Towards More Resilient Flood Risk Management? A Case Study from Vorarlberg, Austria. Sustainability 2019, 11, 5505.

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