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International Collaboration Produces Flood Risk Management Approaches Document

Published Sept. 26, 2011
Report Cover for Flood Risk Management Approaches

ALEXANDRIA, VA – September 26, 2011. USACE Institute for Water Resources has published “Flood Risk Management Approaches as Being Practiced in Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States.” It is being presented as part of the 5th International Conference on Flood Management (ICFM5) this week in Tsukuba, Japan (27-29 September 2011).

The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), the Dutch Rijkswaterstaat, the United Kingdom Environment Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed in 2009 to develop a document to explore risk-informed approaches as being practiced and developed primarily in those four countries. Although very different in frequency and scale of flooding as well as cultural and governmental characteristics, each country had significant efforts underway to better orient its practices to flood risk realities, including those induced by altered land use and by climate change and variability.

This document, the result of that collaboration, reflects contributions from agencies within the four participating nations. It is organized around a conceptual framework developed to encompass flood risk drivers, risk assessment, and the source-path-receptor concept; the flood risk management cycle with its overarching policies and supporting players and mechanisms; and the adaptive management cycle of maintenance, monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment over time.

Despite their varied histories and circumstances, the four countries face similar key challenges. These include adapting to new understandings of risk that take into account the impacts of climate change, bridging gaps between land-use decisions and flood risk management considerations, effectively communicating risk to the general public in a way that promotes individual as well as societal responsibility, and aligning planning and actions to identify and meet the most critical risks within a framework that is socially, environmentally, economically, and politically acceptable. The approaches presented comprise a collective set of best practices among the four countries.

Flooding is a major natural hazard affecting some 520 million people every year, claiming the lives of about 25,000 worldwide and causing global economic losses between $50 and $60 billion annually.

Flood risk is a product of the probability of occurrence of a flood hazard; the vulnerability of individuals, society, and the environment despite flood mitigation from a broad variety of measures implemented to dampen flood consequences through preparation, response, recovery and mitigation; and the consequences that result from a mitigated hazard event.

Our understanding of flood risk is affected by our ability to identify and assess these hazards, vulnerabilities, and consequences. Our ability to manage flood risk is enabled by our ability to coordinate our policies and actions with numerous partners across the risk management lifecycle.

Developing this document provided one means for those within the four countries to learn from the others, furthering the ability to bootstrap from others’ efforts and incorporate aspects suitable to their own circumstances. This document is not an official position of any government or international organization.

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