Chris Zevenbergen in Nature Communications: Adopt a resilience lens in flood risk management

An interdisciplinary group of experts from Deltares, other research institutes and universities argues in a new opinion paper that extra elements must be added to flood risk management in order to make better decisions and develop strategies which enhance resilience and equity. Their paper was recently published in Nature Communications Earth & Environment.

Chris Zevenbergen, who chairs the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education research group on flood resilience and one of the authors of the opinion paper, said: “adapting the flood risk approach would benefit vulnerable groups. Particularly in low-income countries poverty is a major driver of vulnerability to floods”. The elements will help to better align development priorities with flood risk management. This is more needed than ever before”.

Karin de Bruijn, flood resilience expert at Deltares and lead author of the paper, said the paper’s key messages help focus flood risk management on the people that suffer most: “We should look beyond measures which provide protection in the most efficient way, and also consider what may happen if protection systems are overwhelmed, or how we could limit impacts in less-protected areas by enhancing recovery capacity. To better understand the full story of how floods turn into disasters -next to conventional risk analysis- we should study historic events and develop storylines for possible future events,” she said.

Bramka Jafino, economist at the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, the World Bank, said: “The ever-increasing complexity of flood risk demands a new way of approaching it. The standard probabilistic-based risk approaches and cost-benefit analysis, though still very relevant, are not sufficient anymore. This perspective piece calls for approaching flood risk management from a resilience lens – and proposes four concrete elements to do so.”