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A framework for evaluating the effectiveness of flood emergency management systems in Europe

Herman Kasper Gilissen, Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Meghan Alexander, Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex University, United Kingdom
Piotr Matczak, Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland; Institute of Sociology, Adam Mickiewicz University
Maria Pettersson, Luleň University of Technology, Sweden
Silvia Bruzzone, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et ChaussÚes (ENPC), France


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Society is faced with a range of contemporary threats to everyday life, from natural and technological hazards to accidents and terrorism. These are embodied within integrated emergency management arrangements that are designed to enhance preparedness and response to such incidents, and in turn facilitate a prompt recovery. Such arrangements must be inherently dynamic and evolve as new threats emerge or as existing threats change. An example of the latter is the changing nature of flooding, which is projected to increase in both frequency and severity with climate change. Recognizing this evolving threat, we focus on the evaluation of the effectiveness of domestic Flood Emergency Management Systems (FEMS) as components of integrated emergency management arrangements. Despite the extensive body of literature that documents success conditions of so-called effective emergency management more broadly, there have been only a few attempts to construct a comprehensive evaluation framework to support objective assessment and cross-country comparison. Addressing this gap, we formulate an evaluation framework specifically tailored to the study of FEMS in Europe, which is then provisionally applied to the study of FEMS in England (UK), France, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden. Important differences are observed in how FEMS have evolved in relation to differing contextual backgrounds (political, cultural, administrative, and socio-economic) and exposures to flood hazard. From this provisional assessment, a number of opportunities for, and constraints to, enhancing the effectiveness of FEMS in Europe are discerned. The evaluation framework thus serves as an important stepping stone for further indepth inquiry, and as a valuable tool for future comparative study.

Key words

effectiveness; emergency management; England; evaluation framework; flood; France; Netherlands; Poland; Sweden

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