Special Issue "Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Resources Management, Policy and Governance".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2020).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Piotr Matczak
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Sociology, Adam Mickiewicz University, 60-568 Poznan, Poland
Interests: flood risk governance; biodiversity conservation; adaptation to climate change; sustainable urban and rural development; crisis management
Dr. Dries L. T. Hegger
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University
Interests: regional water and climate governance; flood risk management; science-policy interfaces; citizen-engagement

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Resistance-based strategies for flood risk management (FRM), based on controlling flood via structural infrastructure, laws and regulations, have been increasingly challenged in the last 20 years. Instead of seeking to remove the threat and to minimize societal and economic losses, new approaches embrace uncertainty and put emphasis on adaptation instead of control. Such resilience-based approaches address the need to absorb water and recover from floods and focus on the potential of societal systems to transform in response to stressors. There is emerging evidence that a diversification of flood risk management strategies addressing flood risk prevention through pro-active spatial planning, flood defence, flood mitigation, flood preparation and flood recovery contributes to more flood resilience.

Recent research efforts have significantly contributed to knowledge on the mechanisms through which a diversification and alignment of strategies takes place in different contexts. Different sub-themes have attracted attention. Firstly, the role of citizens and stakeholders in FRM has been investigated, in terms of public participation, collaboration, co-production, communication, perception of flood risk, etc. Secondly, FRM policies have been analyzed, investigating their structures, assumptions, and limitations. Additionally, the application of policies, their feasibility, and performance have been scrutinized. Thirdly, there are studies on particular FRM measures and tools, dealing with their applicability to policies and decision making.

A crosscutting issue in this area of research is the role of governance. FRM has become an increasingly reflexive preoccupation. Initially, FRM relied on top-down decisions, but it is now embedded in a dense network of relations, with stakeholders holding various powers, resources, and competences. It poses several, emerging questions on the governance role in FRM progress: How to integrate the traditional resistance measures with nonstructural approaches? How would cooperative natural-social sciences research advance the role of governance in building flood risk resilience? How to (re)conceptualize resilience to capture the governance and the resistance aspects of FRM? How could social experimentation approaches transform FRM? How to frame FRM to identify win-win situations where environmental (e.g., biodiversity conservation) and social (e.g., equality) aims are integrated?

This Special Issue invites contributions that look critically at flood risk governance, unpack some of the issues discussed above or identify important new research areas. We particularly welcome cross-disciplinary papers, within and across the domains of natural and social sciences.

Dr. Piotr Matczak
Dr. Dries L. T. Hegger
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • flood risk governance
  • resilience
  • stakeholders engagement
  • policy transition
  • flood risk reduction measures

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience—Reviewing the Special Issue’s Contribution to Existing Insights
Water 2020, 12(8), 2122; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12082122 - 26 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 909
Abstract
There is lively scholarly and societal debate on the need to diversify flood risk management strategies to contribute to more flood resilience. The latter requires dedicated governance strategies related to which relevant insights are currently emerging. However, more systematic theoretical and empirical insights [...] Read more.
There is lively scholarly and societal debate on the need to diversify flood risk management strategies to contribute to more flood resilience. The latter requires dedicated governance strategies related to which relevant insights are currently emerging. However, more systematic theoretical and empirical insights on how to specify and implement governance strategies are still urgently needed. The Special Issue ‘Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience’ has brought together nine contributions by renowned flood risk governance scholars that together help to unpack lessons about these governance strategies. This Special Issue’s editorial introduces the debate on flood risk governance for more resilience and presents the key findings of the individual contributions to the Special Issue. We show that flood risk governance arrangements in specific regions in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Bangladesh, France, and Mexico are gradually evolving. A common denominator is that more horizontal forms of governance are under development in which a more diverse array of public and private actors—including citizens, as well as different sectors, is becoming involved. Efforts are underway to establish connectivity between actors, levels, and sectors, both through regional and international exchanges. While lessons on how to do the former successfully are emerging, we notice that these should still be unpacked more fully. Moreover, there is still a need to establish a more open and inclusive societal debate on societal preferences regarding flood risk protection in which all actors with a stake in flood risk governance processes and outcomes can participate. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)

Research

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Article
What Can We Learn from Planning Instruments in Flood Prevention? Comparative Illustration to Highlight the Challenges of Governance in Europe
Water 2020, 12(6), 1841; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12061841 - 26 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1071
Abstract
Studying the selection of planning instruments in flood prevention can be critical to gain a better understanding of governance. This choice is underestimated in the flood management literature. This paper fills a knowledge gap in flood management governance by examining the rationales for [...] Read more.
Studying the selection of planning instruments in flood prevention can be critical to gain a better understanding of governance. This choice is underestimated in the flood management literature. This paper fills a knowledge gap in flood management governance by examining the rationales for the choice of instruments. The study is grounded on a comparative illustration of planning instruments in flood prevention in three European countries: England, France and the Netherlands. Flood prevention through spatial planning is a specific example, as the implementation of the Floods Directive has reactivated the role of spatial planning in urban agglomerations. The choice of instruments is never neutral. In the field of flood management, alignment among strategies is supposed to lead to resilience. Instruments should be aligned and coherent. Is that the case? The article explains the challenges of governance configured by a conflict between the spatial planning policy steered by local authorities and the risk prevention policy led by national authorities. This model is further complicated by the tension between the preference for legal, technical or scientific instruments, and the difference in professional culture between planning and prevention. The selection of instrument shows that if their conflicts are exacerbated to debates on variables or parameters, it is because there is no political agreement on the balance between development and security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
Article
Adaptive Capacities for Diversified Flood Risk Management Strategies: Learning from Pilot Projects
Water 2019, 11(12), 2643; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122643 - 14 Dec 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1716
Abstract
Diversification of flood risk management strategies (FRMS) in response to climate change relies on the adaptive capacities of institutions. Although adaptive capacities enable flexibility and adjustment, more empirical research is needed to better grasp the role of adaptive capacities to accommodate expected climate [...] Read more.
Diversification of flood risk management strategies (FRMS) in response to climate change relies on the adaptive capacities of institutions. Although adaptive capacities enable flexibility and adjustment, more empirical research is needed to better grasp the role of adaptive capacities to accommodate expected climate change effects. This paper presents an analytical framework based on the Adaptive Capacity Wheel (ACW) and Triple-loop Learning. The framework is applied to evaluate the adaptive capacities that were missing, employed, and developed throughout the ‘Alblasserwaard-Vijfheerenlanden’ (The Netherlands) and the ‘Wesermarsch’ (Germany) pilot projects. Evaluations were performed using questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups. From the 22 capacities of ACW, three capacities were identified important for diversifying the current FRMS; the capacity to develop a greater variety of solutions, continuous access to information about diversified FRMS, and collaborative leadership. Hardly any capacities related to ‘learning’ and ‘governance’ were mentioned by the stakeholders. From a further reflection on the data, we inferred that the pilot projects performed single-loop learning (incremental learning: ‘are we doing what we do right?’), rather than double-loop learning (reframing: ‘are we doing the right things?’). As the development of the framework is part of ongoing research, some directions for improvement are highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
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Article
Flood Risk and Resilience in the Netherlands: In Search of an Adaptive Governance Approach
Water 2019, 11(12), 2563; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122563 - 05 Dec 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1553
Abstract
In the Netherlands, dealing with the risk of flooding in the face of the current climate change requires a governance approach that is less based upon the long-standing tradition of prevention and protection, and more oriented toward ideas of resilience and adaptivity. Such [...] Read more.
In the Netherlands, dealing with the risk of flooding in the face of the current climate change requires a governance approach that is less based upon the long-standing tradition of prevention and protection, and more oriented toward ideas of resilience and adaptivity. Such an approach is assumed to be more resilient compared to static approaches and better equipped to deal with the indeterminate character of a problem like flood risk. This article presents the Dutch attempt to introduce a more polycentric and adaptive governance approach in flood management, called multilayered safety (MLS). We studied this approach via interviews and an extensive document study, and analyzed the institutions governing the issue using the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework of Elinor Ostrom. For years, the issue was in the hands of a small network of actors, mainly occupied by water experts and governed by a strong lead organization and permanent bodies. While introducing a new, more adaptive policy concept the government encountered both resistance and inability within the existing policy regime. This article shows that the issue of flood safety was successfully ‘tamed’ for decades. Adopting a more adaptive and polycentric approach necessitates ‘untaming’ the issue of flood safety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
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Article
Social Learning in Multilevel Flood Risk Governance: Lessons from the Dutch Room for the River Program
Water 2019, 11(10), 2032; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102032 - 28 Sep 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1846
Abstract
Although social learning is a key element of multilevel flood risk governance, it is hardly studied. This paper addresses this knowledge gap. The paper aims to identify enabling conditions for social learning in multilevel flood risks governance arrangements. We first conceptualize social learning [...] Read more.
Although social learning is a key element of multilevel flood risk governance, it is hardly studied. This paper addresses this knowledge gap. The paper aims to identify enabling conditions for social learning in multilevel flood risks governance arrangements. We first conceptualize social learning and draw up a conceptual framework consisting of enabling conditions for social learning, using the literature on adaptive co-management, sustainable land and water management, and integrated flood risk management. Next, we apply this framework to analyze social learning in the context of the Dutch Room for the River program. Our interview results reveal that social learning about integrated flood protection measures took place at multiple levels. We found that a strong personal commitment to learning and mutual interpersonal trust in working groups are key conditions for successful social learning. Based on our analysis, we conclude with some recommendations for enhancing social learning processes in future flood protection programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
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Article
Exploring Science–Policy Interactions in a Technical Policy Field: Climate Change and Flood Risk Management in Austria, Southern Germany, and Switzerland
Water 2019, 11(8), 1675; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11081675 - 13 Aug 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2044
Abstract
This paper analyses the science–policy interactions in the field of flood risk governance against the background of climate change. By the example of three neighbouring Alpine regions (Switzerland, Southern Germany and Austria), the study strives to shed further light on how flood risk [...] Read more.
This paper analyses the science–policy interactions in the field of flood risk governance against the background of climate change. By the example of three neighbouring Alpine regions (Switzerland, Southern Germany and Austria), the study strives to shed further light on how flood risk governance regimes embrace the possible impacts of climate change. It builds on the assumption that flood risk management, as a ‘technical’ policy field, is strongly influenced by scientific evidence and that differences in how countries incorporate climate change can be explained by the way science and policy are brought together in the respective national arenas. We structure the empirical analysis along three dimensions: (i) dynamics of knowledge creation; (ii) institutionalization of the science–policy interface; and (iii) pathways of influence of expertise on policy development. We find that there is a mixed, though increasing influence of climate change on flood risk governance in the three selected Alpine regions. Climate adaptation has become an important issue of flood policy in all three study areas, and this shift has been strongly supported by evidence-based arguments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
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Article
Pluvial Flooding in Utrecht: On Its Way to a Flood-Proof City
Water 2019, 11(7), 1501; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071501 - 19 Jul 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3548
Abstract
Downpours are increasing in frequency and severity due to climate change. Cities are particularly susceptible to flooding from downpours because of their large share of impervious surfaces. Minimising pluvial flood risk requires all involved stakeholders to collaborate and overcome various barriers. Although an [...] Read more.
Downpours are increasing in frequency and severity due to climate change. Cities are particularly susceptible to flooding from downpours because of their large share of impervious surfaces. Minimising pluvial flood risk requires all involved stakeholders to collaborate and overcome various barriers. Although an increase in citizen engagement in climate adaptation is generally preferred, experiences with inclusive decision-making are often limited. The aim of this paper is to obtain a deeper understanding of how the capacity to govern pluvial flood risk can be developed through citizen engagement. We scrutinised the capacity of local actors to govern pluvial flood risk in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands. For the analysis of Utrecht’s problem-solving capacity, the Governance Capacity Framework provided a consistent assessment of the key governance components. The results indicate that Utrecht’s capacity to govern pluvial flooding is relatively well-developed. Collaboration between public authorities is advanced, sufficient financial resources are available, and smart monitoring enables high levels of evaluation and learning. However, citizen awareness and engagement in policy making is rather low. Accordingly, citizens’ willingness to pay for flood adaptation is limited. Stimulating flood risk awareness by combining financial incentives with more advanced arrangements for active citizen engagement is key for Utrecht and other cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
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Article
The Costs of Living with Floods in the Jamuna Floodplain in Bangladesh
Water 2019, 11(6), 1238; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11061238 - 13 Jun 2019
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 2932
Abstract
Bangladeshi people use multiple strategies to live with flooding events and associated riverbank erosion. They relocate, evacuate their homes temporarily, change cropping patterns, and supplement their income from migrating household members. In this way, they can reduce the negative impact of floods on [...] Read more.
Bangladeshi people use multiple strategies to live with flooding events and associated riverbank erosion. They relocate, evacuate their homes temporarily, change cropping patterns, and supplement their income from migrating household members. In this way, they can reduce the negative impact of floods on their livelihoods. However, these societal responses also have negative outcomes, such as impoverishment. This research collects quantitative household data and analyzes changes of livelihood conditions over recent decades in a large floodplain area in north-west Bangladesh. It is found that while residents cope with flooding events, they do not achieve successful adaptation. With every flooding, people lose income and assets, which they can only partially recover. As such, they are getting poorer, and therefore less able to make structural adjustments that would allow adaptation in the longer term. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
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Article
City-To-City Learning for Urban Resilience: The Case of Water Squares in Rotterdam and Mexico City
Water 2019, 11(5), 983; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11050983 - 10 May 2019
Cited by 19 | Viewed by 3615
Abstract
Cities worldwide are building ‘resilience’ in the face of water-related challenges. International networks have emerged through which urban communities draw on each other’s experiences and expertise in order to become resilient cities. Learning is a key principle in resilience-building, but thus far little [...] Read more.
Cities worldwide are building ‘resilience’ in the face of water-related challenges. International networks have emerged through which urban communities draw on each other’s experiences and expertise in order to become resilient cities. Learning is a key principle in resilience-building, but thus far little empirical research is available on city-to-city learning and learning for urban resilience. This paper presents an analysis of how policy relevant knowledge on the notion of ‘Water Squares’ is exchanged between Rotterdam and Mexico City. We mobilize a framework composed of four distinct phases: exploration and marketing (phase 1), building pipelines (phase 2), translation and adoption (phase 3), and internalization and reflection (phase 4). Critical in first phase was introspective analysis of one’s own systems, strengths and weaknesses, rather than an outward-looking search for knowledge or mentees. During the second phase, the cities reframed their own narratives to match those of their counterparts as a way to create a mutual understanding of each other’s struggles and histories. This facilitated policy and knowledge exchange as equal partners on a basis of trust. In the third phase, strong local leaders were recruited into the process, which was key to anchor knowledge in the community and to reduce the risks of losing institutional memory in centralized, hierarchical institutions. For the fourth phase it should be stressed that by internalizing such lessons, cities might strengthen not only their own resilience, but also enhance future exchanges with other cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
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Review

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Review
Reducing Hydro-Meteorological Risk by Nature-Based Solutions: What Do We Know about People’s Perceptions?
Water 2019, 11(12), 2599; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122599 - 10 Dec 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2776
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NBS) have recently received attention due to their potential ability to sustainably reduce hydro-meteorological risks, providing co-benefits for both ecosystems and affected people. Therefore, pioneering research has dedicated efforts to optimize the design of NBS, to evaluate their wider co-benefits and [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) have recently received attention due to their potential ability to sustainably reduce hydro-meteorological risks, providing co-benefits for both ecosystems and affected people. Therefore, pioneering research has dedicated efforts to optimize the design of NBS, to evaluate their wider co-benefits and to understand promoting and/or hampering governance conditions for the uptake of NBS. In this article, we aim to complement this research by conducting a comprehensive literature review of factors shaping people’s perceptions of NBS as a means to reduce hydro-meteorological risks. Based on 102 studies, we identified six topics shaping the current discussion in this field of research: (1) valuation of the co-benefits (including those related to ecosystems and society); (2) evaluation of risk reduction efficacy; (3) stakeholder participation; (4) socio-economic and location-specific conditions; (5) environmental attitude, and (6) uncertainty. Our analysis reveals that concerned empirical insights are diverse and even contradictory, they vary in the depth of the insights generated and are often not comparable for a lack of a sound theoretical-methodological grounding. We, therefore, propose a conceptual model outlining avenues for future research by indicating potential inter-linkages between constructs underlying perceptions of NBS to hydro-meteorological risks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
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