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Improving flood resilience through governance strategies: Gauging the state of the art

Piotr Matczak, Dries Hegger 2021. Improving flood resilience through governance strategies: Gauging the state of the art. Wires Water Volume 8, Issue 4


There has been an upsurge in studies of flood risk governance (FRG): steering and decision-making by public and private actors as a complement to risk assessments and technical management options. The scholarly debate is, however, highly fragmented, complicating the production of cumulative insights. To address this knowledge gap, we used six governance strategies for achieving flood resilience that previously have been put forward as a conceptual framework to review 121 articles published between 2016 and 2019, complemented with insights contained in recent overview articles, to gauge the state-of-the-art in FRG literature: to (a) diversify flood risk management strategies; (b) align the strategies; (c) adequately involve private actors, including citizens; (d) put an adequate rule system in place; (e) cater for sufficient monetary and non-monetary resources; (f) inspire an open and inclusive normative debate. We found, first, that literature is producing insights on increasingly technically advanced risk assessments and agent-based models but societal debate on justice in flood risk governance is getting attention. A clearly emerging topic is that of citizen engagement in flood risk governance. Second, the geographical focus of the studies is still skewed toward the Global North. To make progress in understanding flood risk governance for better resilience more systematic and comparative empirical assessments of flood risk governance in order to derive generalizable lessons while better taking into account the context-specificity of FRG. Testing flood risk governance solutions against comparative cases, by balancing the geographical scope of research efforts, and enhancing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary working is a way to deliver knowledge for more resilience.

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