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Managing urban flood resilience as a multilevel governance challenge: an analysis of required multilevel coordination mechanisms

Carel Dieperink, Utrecht University, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Environmental Governance, The Netherlands
Hannelore Mees, Antwerp University, Research Group Environment and Society, Belgium
Sally J Priest, Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex University, UK
Kristina Ek, Luleň University of Technology, Division of Social Sciences, Sweden
Silvia Bruzzone, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et ChaussÚes (ENPC), France
Corinne Larrue, University of Paris Est, Paris School of Planning, France
Piotr Matczak, Adam Mickiewicz University, Institute of Sociology, Poland


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In both academic literature and flood risk management practices, it is argued that governance initiatives are needed to enhance the flood resilience of urban agglomerations. Multiple levels of governance will be involved in this activity. However, thus far, the literature has hardly addressed what mechanisms are required to coordinate the different levels of managing urban flood resilience, and what factors account for these mechanisms. Our aim is to address this knowledge gap. Here, we examine six in-depth case studies undertaken in urban agglomerations in different European countries: Dordrecht, the Netherlands; Hull, UK; Geraardsbergen, Belgium; Karlstad, Sweden; Wrocław, Poland; and Nice, France. The case studies reveal the ways in which multiple levels of governance are involved in managing urban flood resilience. Coordination among governance levels is achieved by proactive policy entrepreneurs, the use of bridging concepts, clear rules, and the provision of resources. These mechanisms seem to be universally applicable, but their characteristics appear to be highly dependent on more general institutional, economic, geographical, and cultural contextual factors.

Key words

Belgium; coordination; England; flood risk management; France; multilevel governance; Poland; resilience; Sweden; The Netherlands; UK; urban flooding

Copyright © 2018 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