Ecology and Society Ecology and Society
E&S Home > Vol. 21, Iss. 4 > Art. 53 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Toward more resilient flood risk governance

Peter P. J. Driessen, Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Dries L. T. Hegger, Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Marloes H. N. Bakker, Environmental Governance, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Helena F. M. W. van Rijswick, Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University School of Law, The Netherlands
Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz, Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poznan, Poland; Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Potzdam, Germany


Full Text: HTML   
Download Citation


Countries all over the world face increasing flood risks because of urbanization and the effects of climate change. In Europe, flooding is the most common of all natural disasters and accounts for the largest number of casualties and highest amount of economic damage. The current scientific debate on how urban agglomerations can be made more resilient to these flood risks includes a discussion on how a diversification, coordination, and alignment of flood risk management strategies (FRMSs), including flood risk prevention through proactive spatial planning, flood defense, flood risk mitigation, flood preparation, and flood recovery, can contribute to flood resilience. Although effective implementation of FRMSs can be considered a necessary precondition for resilience, efficient and legitimate flood risk governance can enhance this societal resilience to flooding. Governance and legal research has the potential to provide crucial insights into the debate on how to improve resilience. Yet the social sciences have only looked into this issue in a fragmented manner, often without a comparative scope. This special feature addresses this knowledge gap by focusing on the scope and workings of FRMSs, but also on cross-cutting topics such as uncertainties, distributional effects, solidarity, knowledge management, and citizen participation. The papers included in this feature are written by both policy analysts and legal scholars. The above-mentioned issues are thus approached via a multidisciplinary perspective. All papers convincingly show that one-size-fits-all solutions for appropriate and resilient flood risk governance arrangements do not exist. Governance arrangements should be tailored to the existing physical, socio-cultural, and institutional context. This requires an open and transparent debate between scientists and practitioners on the normative starting point of flood risk governance, a clear division of responsibilities, the establishment of connectivity between actors, levels, and sectors through bridging mechanisms, and adequate knowledge infrastructures, both nationally and internationally.

Key words

climate change; Europe; flood risk governance; flood risk management strategies; 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