Lydia Cumiskey (United Kingdom) 1; Sally Priest (United Kingdom) 1; Frans Klijn (Netherlands) 2
1 - Flood Hazard Research Centre Middlesex University; 2 - Deltares
Integrating Flood Risk Management (FRM) objectives alongside other wider objectives, such as the environment and economic growth, offers new opportunities to improve FRM outcomes combined with actors’ other key priorities in a holistic way. Integrated approaches can promote synergies (win-win solutions) between actor responsibilities, reduce duplication of efforts, promote consistency, and achieve cross-cutting goals rather than sector-specific goals only. However, blurred actor responsibilities and rigid governance arrangements across sectors often make it difficult to translate integration in practice. This research explores the critical mechanisms influencing the degree to which FRM integrates wider objectives including; environment, housing, growth and infrastructure, in England. Data was collected through in-depth interviews (~40) with FRM professionals at different levels (nationally and locally in Cambridgeshire and Leeds) and participant observation of ~20 FRM related meetings. This data was recorded, transcribed, and analysed using thematic analysis and NVivo software.
Results show that the availability and quality of local partnerships or networks and individual coordinators, along with joint funding mechanisms, play a critical role to enable integration efforts. Local flood risk management partnerships allowed actors to communicate more frequently, to identify contact points and understand their internal organizational networks. However, FRM related partnerships did not always incentivize the full range of actors’ participation to enable high degrees of integration in long term growth and infrastructure development e.g. utility providers or mayors. There is untapped potential to include FRM actors in existing wider networks such as catchment partnerships (water framework directive focused) and Local Enterprise Partnerships (business and growth focused). The availability of coordination or partnership full-time roles, e.g. within water companies, was found to be very beneficial to collect input systematically, build personal relationships, and enable consistency across multiple geographical boundaries. The strong characteristics of these individuals such as personality, creativity, and personal network, enabled them to maximize the opportunities (e.g. funding bids) and overcome barriers (e.g. rules, misaligned timelines, boundaries) to achieve integrated outcomes.
The availability of joint (or pooled) financing mechanisms (e.g. local levy fund) was found to offer a flexible means to test innovative ideas, conduct studies or hire staff that could be of benefit to many actors with multiple objectives and support integrated outputs. The introduction of ‘partnership funding’ improved working relationships and built trust amongst actors as they implement FRM projects jointly, but is limited in reach as its funding criteria offer favor the protection of housing over economic growth or the environment.