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New, concise guidance on the design of strategies for Integrated Flood Management

The Guidance Document is the operational link between the Policy Series and the Tool Series. This publication outlines the approach and steps to develop and evaluate well-balanced and well-motivated strategies to cope with the risk of flooding. The design of strategies covers the full range of possible structural and non-structural measures, including structural protection and mitigation measures, planning and building codes, emergency management, raising of risk awareness and preparedness, risk-sharing and the like.

This guidance document is mainly intended for persons responsible for planning-flood management activities, designing flood-defence systems and operating flood-control systems in the public and private sectors.

Floods are the most common natural disaster with the largest impacts on society. While flood-impact records show a gradual decrease in the number of flood fatalities thanks to better early warning, among others, flood damage appears to be increasing because of insufficient attention to prevention, economic growth and lack of flood-sensitive land-use planning.

Minimizing loss of life and economic damage

The Integrated Flood Management (IFM) approach aims to maximize the productivity and efficient use of floodplains and coastal zones, while minimizing the loss of life and impact on livelihoods and assets through protective measures. Absolute protection from flooding, however, is impossible. In planning for IFM, therefore, there is a need to decide what level of risk is acceptable, to decide how safe is safe enough.

The process of developing a successful strategy should comprise a blend of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches,” said Herman van der Most, Deltares strategic advisor in flood risk management and co-author of the publication. A top-down approach will produce a strategic framework of coherent strategy development, whereas a bottom-up approach will enhance stakeholder engagement and promote local linkages to other policy domains, such as urban development, nature restoration, and the like.

Transparent communication

The guidance document presents a policy analysis and planning framework to guide the steps of IFM. This framework reflects the policy cycle and puts stakeholder engagement and open and transparent communication at its core. Planning for IFM is approached as an iterative process working towards risk-informed decision-making.

Sendai Framework

The document reflects experiences on how risk-informed decision-making and preventive measures pay off compared to a reactive, event-driven disaster response: more lives saved and fewer assets damaged at less costs. As such it, contributes to the implementation of the objectives of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction.

The guidance document was developed by the APFM Technical Support Unit in close cooperation with Deltares, with the support of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment and the Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment.