Synergies and barriers with integrating flooding from heavy rainfall into the implementation of EU floods directive

09:00 Thursday 30 May


Room S2


Philip Bubeck (Germany) 1; Miriam Riese (Germany) 1; Annegret H. Thieken (Germany) 1

1 - Potsdam University

Flooding caused by heavy rainfall events has repeatedly resulted in significant damage across European Union (EU) member states in recent years. In Germany, for instance, floods from heavy rainfall caused by two low-pressure systems only resulted in insured losses of up to 800 million Euros in May and June 2016. In the future, the magnitude of flooding from heavy rainfall events is likely to increase due to climate change and ongoing urbanization. Therefore, improved risk assessment and management is required.

To reduce the adverse consequences of flooding for human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activities, EU member states have adopted the EU Floods directive in 2007. The floods directive provides a consistent framework for the assessment and management of flood risk. The floods directive comprises of: (1) a preliminary flood risk assessment, (2) flood hazard and risk mapping, and (3) the development of flood risk management plans. It also prescribes a periodical review of the three steps. While the EU floods directive focuses on fluvial and coastal flooding, addressing flooding from heavy rainfall events is not mandatory (Article 2.1). Consequently, most member states did not systematically include heavy rainfall events in their implementation of the EU Floods directive.

Against the background of the substantial losses caused by heavy rainfall events in recent years, it has been discussed in Germany whether flood risk from heavy rainfall events should be systematically integrated into the implementation of the EU floods directive in the medium term. Here, we report the results from an in-depth analysis of potential barriers and synergies with integrating flooding from heavy rainfall events into the implementation of the EU floods directive. Based on a series of expert interviews and a literature review, we conclude that while some synergies exist, there are also considerable barriers that impede a systematic integration. These mainly relate to existing gaps in knowledge, the problem to delineate risk zones for heavy rainfall, and high additional costs compared to limited benefits.