The European Union approach to flood risk management and improving societal resilience: lessons from the implementation of the Floods Directive in six European countries

Priest, Sally J. ORCID logoORCID:, Suykens, Cathy, Van Rijswick, Helena F. M. W., Schellenberger, Thomas, Goytia, Susana, Kundzewicz, Zbigniew W., Van Doorn-Hoekveld, Willemijn J., Beyers, Jean-Christophe and Homewood, Stephen (2016) The European Union approach to flood risk management and improving societal resilience: lessons from the implementation of the Floods Directive in six European countries. Ecology and Society, 21 (4) , 50. ISSN 1708-3087 [Article] (doi:10.5751/ES-08913-210450)

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Diversity in flood risk management approaches is often considered to be a strength. However in some national settings, and especially for transboundary rivers, variability and the incompatibility of approaches can reduce the effectiveness of flood risk management. Placed in the context of increasing flood risks, as well as the potential for flooding to undermine the European Union's sustainable development goals, a desire to increase societal resilience to flooding has prompted the introduction of a common European Framework. This paper provides a legal and policy analysis of the implementation of the Floods Directive (2007/60/EC) in six countries; Belgium (Flemish Region), England, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. Evaluation criteria from existing legal and policy literature frame the study of the Directive and its impact on enhancing or constraining societal resilience by using an adaptive governance approach. These criteria are initially used to analyze the key components of the EU approach, before providing insight of the implementation of the Directive at a national level. Similarities and differences in the legal translation of European goals into existing flood risk management are analyzed alongside their relative influence on policy and practice. The research highlights that the impact of the Floods Directive on increasing societal resilience has been nationally variable, in part due to its focus on procedural obligations, rather than on more substantive requirements. Analysis shows that despite a focus on transboundary river basin management, in some cases existing traditions of flood risk management, have overridden objectives to harmonize flood risk management. This could be strengthened by requiring more stringent cooperation and providing the competent authorities in International River Basins Districts with more power. Despite some shortcomings in directly impacting flood risk outcomes, the Directive has positively stimulated discussion and flood risk management planning in countries that were perhaps lagging behind.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): adaptive governance; Floods Directive; legal analysis; policy analysis; societal resilience
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Flood Hazard Research Centre
Item ID: 20648
Notes on copyright: Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published under license by The Resilience Alliance.
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Depositing User: Sally Priest
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2016 11:05
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 21:21

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