Social justice in the context of adaptation to climate change – reflecting on different policy approaches to distribute and allocate flood risk management

Thaler, Thomas, Fuchs, Sven, Priest, Sally J. ORCID logoORCID: and Doorn, Neelke (2018) Social justice in the context of adaptation to climate change – reflecting on different policy approaches to distribute and allocate flood risk management. Regional Envrionmental Change, 18 (2) . pp. 305-309. ISSN 1436-378X [Article] (doi:10.1007/s10113-017-1272-8)

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Editorial to a special edition of the journal. Consequences of extreme hydrological events, such as those recently experienced in United States (e.g. Hurricane Harvey or Irma in 2017), floods in South Asia in 2017, or the Central European floods in 2013 and 2016, have again focused the attention of society, policy makers and academic scholars on questions of how to reduce vulnerability to such events, especially when faced with the dual challenges of climate and societal change. Not only is the likelihood of floods increasing (e.g. IPCC 2014), but, due to continuing development in hazard-prone zones, the so called bullseye effect which argues that increasing disaster frequency is largely due to increasing exposure, and the resulting higher degree of vulnerability in floodplains, it becomes more and more challenging to protect all properties to the same standard (see discussion around residual risk, Ashley et al. 2014; Jongman et al. 2015; Fuchs et al. 2017a). Hence, the outcome of current flood risk management strategies in many situations are necessitating changes to the current social contract between state and society, requiring a re-design of the role of central government and individual citizens and communities in terms of sharing responsibilities (Adger et al. 2013; Doorn 2016). In particular, government often encourages society to take the lead in the responsibility for flood risk management, but apparently with conflicts and misunderstandings arising (Harris 2012; Kuhlicke et al. 2016; Fuchs et al. 2017b) as well as potentially introducing inequalities in flood risk management outcomes. In Europe, we can already observe these aspects in recent developments, which have led to a re-arrangement of roles and responsibilities for flood risk management, such as introduction of Partnership Funding in England and Wales or Canada ‘risk-based’ stormwater charge (Thaler and Priest 2014; Geaves and Penning-Rowsell 2016; Thaler and Levin-Keitel 2016; Henstra and Thistlethwaite 2017). However, discussion and research concerning the implications of social justice and injustice in these new flood risk management debates is scarce (Johnson et al. 2007; Doorn 2015; Thaler and Hartmann 2016).

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Flood Hazard Research Centre
Item ID: 23734
Notes on copyright: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Regional Environmental Change. The final authenticated version is available online at:
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Depositing User: Sally Priest
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2018 14:36
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 20:12

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