Am I responsible? Finding a shared optimum for flood risk management in between public and private actors

11:15 Tuesday 28 May


Room S13


Magdalena Rauter (Austria) 1; Sven Fuchs (Austria) 1; Thomas Thaler (Austria) 1; Maria Kaufmann (Netherlands) 2

1 - University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU); 2 - Radboud University, Nijmegen

The frequency and severity of extreme weather events are expected to increase due to the effects of climate change. These developments and associated challenges have focused a shift in flood risk management from ‘government to governance’. So far, public (governmental) flood alleviation schemes where standard modes to deal with flood hazards. However, with high implementation and maintenance costs as well as substantial losses remaining, alternative management approaches emerged. A management approach solely considering hazard potentials instead of also considering risk potentials is not adequate any longer.

The aim of this paper is to assess whether people affected should and can take responsibility and implement individual protection and mitigation measures (e.g. flood-proofing) and whether responsibility-sharing is feasible as a more resilient governance arrangement. In this study an administrative viewpoint was considered, rather than a private one. This was done by conducting semi-structured expert interviews to gain insight into the perspectives of a variety of stakeholders. Twenty-two interviews were conducted with interviewees at the local (fire department, engineering, mayor, public relations, insurance, natural hazards consulting, water management) regional (planning, geology, warning centre, architecture) and national (planning, flood risk management) level.

Preliminary results show that there are a) hardly any regulatory instruments, but rather tools to raise awareness among society and b) incentives to implement measures are missing. Information is the main instrument to raise awareness and ‘the individual’s benefit’ is commonly seen as the main motivation for the affected to get active. The need for an increased sense of responsibility seems to be evident among experts. However, more cooperation, top-down instructions and better coordination between players (public and private) are seen to be missing on the administrative level. Even though stakeholders realise that responsibility-sharing is as an adaptation strategy, challenges arise regarding its implementation, as individuals lack awareness and hence the will to engage. Furthermore, the scope of action to support the affected seems to be limited. Yet, a shift towards sharing responsibility is an inevitable approach in future in flood risk management.