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Coproducing flood risk management through citizen involvement: insights from cross-country comparison in Europe

Hannelore Mees, Research Group Environment and Society, University of Antwerp
Ann Crabbé, Faculty of Social Sciences, Research Group Environment and Society, University of Antwerp
Meghan Alexander, Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex University
Maria Kaufmann, Institute for Management Research, Radboud University Nijmegen
Silvia Bruzzone, CITERES Research Centre, François Rabelais University of Tours
Lisa Lévy, Institute for Environmental Science, University of Geneva
Jakub Lewandowski, Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment, Polish Academy of Science


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Across Europe, citizens are increasingly expected to participate in the implementation of flood risk management (FRM), by engaging in voluntary-based activities to enhance preparedness, implementing property-level measures, and so forth. Although citizen participation in FRM decision making is widely addressed in academic literature, citizens’ involvement in the delivery of FRM measures is comparatively understudied. Drawing from public administration literature, we adopted the notion of “coproduction” as an analytical framework for studying the interaction between citizens and public authorities, from the decision-making process through to the implementation of FRM in practice. We considered to what extent coproduction is evident in selected European Union (EU) member states, drawing from research conducted within the EU project STAR-FLOOD (Strengthening and Redesigning European Flood Risk Practices towards Appropriate and Resilient Flood Risk Governance Arrangements). On the basis of a cross-country comparison between Flanders (Belgium), England (United Kingdom), France, the Netherlands, and Poland, we have highlighted the varied forms of coproduction and reflected on how these have been established within divergent settings. Coproduction is most prominent in discourse and practice in England and is emergent in France and Flanders. By contrast, FRM in the Netherlands and Poland remains almost exclusively reliant on governmental protection measures and thereby consultation-based forms of coproduction. Analysis revealed how these actions are motivated by different underlying rationales, which in turn shape the type of approaches and degree of institutionalization of coproduction. In the Netherlands, coproduction is primarily encouraged to increase societal resilience, whereas public authorities in the other countries also use it to improve cost-efficiency and redistribute responsibilities to its beneficiaries.

Key words

codelivery; coproduction; cross-country comparison; flood risk governance; flood risk responsibilities; legitimacy; public participation; resilience

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087