Current Practice in Flood Risk Management in the EU
In 2016, the Commission and Member States carried out a survey to gather information about the framework that was established for flood risk management under the Floods Directive in the EU. The final report of the study launched in 2019, on ‘Current Practice in Flood Risk Management’ is based on a review of 34 case study examples from 15 Member States. The objective of this work is to strengthen flood risk management in the EU with the compilation and dissemination of practices that could potentially be adapted and replicated in other Member States, regions, or localities.
The broad aspects that are covered in this report are listed below with a short summary of their findings:
- Assessing, mapping and communicating flood risk: understanding and mapping of historic flooding and present flood hazard and risk is quite mature across Member States and many are at strategic/river basin scales.
- Climate Change: most shared cases had completed or had ongoing climate impact studies. However, there were sometimes no clear policies, methods or guidance on how to apply them in practice. Variabilities and uncertainties due to different climate models are leading to challenges in communicating climate change impacts and some cases are presented which aim to present straightforward communication.
- Land use planning: Member States are using historical flooding or projected flood risk information to varying extents to ensure new development is only permitted in areas of low flood risk and the level to which climate change is incorporated in land-use planning varies across Member States.
- Linking objectives to measures and monitoring progress: understanding of the baseline hazard and risk, development of objectives and identification of measures to deliver these is general practice across MS. However, the extent to which the objectives are tracked through the process to ensure they are driving the measures and associated indicators identified, is limited and there is opportunity for further work in this area.
- Implementation of measures: Member States are developing, appraising, and delivering measures to reduce their flood risk. Some examples of systematic approaches for option development and cost-benefit were identified. This included the use of multi-criteria analyses, methods and tools that enable systematic appraisal process, funding and stakeholder engagement.
- Working in partnership: delivery of flood risk management measures requires partnership working across countries which share river basins, tiers of government, relevant stakeholders etc. Many cases were presented showing methods and processes, a lot of which are supported by mapping and communication tools.
- Working with the public: effective engagement with the public is important and enables understanding and incorporation of local issues and constraints as well as opportunities to achieve local acceptance and participation especially where public action is required such as response to flood warnings. Public engagement has proved more challenging compared with other professional partners and this remains an area of challenge and significant potential for improvement.
- Nature- Based Solutions: nature-based solutions offer opportunities to work with natural processes to deliver wider benefits for flood alleviation as well as ecology, habitat diversity, water resource availability and quality while enhancing circular water management. Several cases were presented by Member States and many included a combination of measures to deal with flood risk. The multi-objective measures enabled funding from multiple sources.
- Urban flood risk management: Cases of urban flood risk management are presented, showing different structural plan systems and approaches allowing urban/city scale management to occur within the context of catchment understanding.
Overall, the study has identified and presented many current practice cases across aspects of flood risk management that could be shared, adapted and adopted more widely across the EU. The report identified aspects which are not yet developed or embedded in practice and require continued focus and these include the following:
- Taking better account of climate change impacts through improved communication and guidance for future flood risk management planning and delivery.
- Improved use of anticipatory flood risk management through adaptive approaches and pathways, in light of uncertainties in future flood risk due to changes in climate and socio-economic development.
- Development, sharing and embedding of more appropriate processes, methods and tools for engaging and communicating with the general public and public groups about flood hazard and risk and improving their inclusion in the development and delivery of flood risk management measures.