Transboundary Flood Risk Management in the UNECE Region

Transboundary Flood Risk Management in the UNECE Region You do not have access to this content

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Author(s):
UN
01 Dec 2009
Pages:
98
ISBN:
9789210543415 (PDF)
http://dx.doi.org/10.18356/8c8370fd-en

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Floods are natural phenomena that are necessary for the survival and health of the eco-system. Floodplains have historically attracted socio-economic development and continue to support high densities of human population. This is particularly important where land resources suitable for human development are scarce. Especially in arid and semi-arid areas, flood waters represent a vital water resource. Floods can, however, also lead to wide-spread damage, health problems and the loss of human life. Transboundary flood risk management enables sharing and redistributing risks and resources. This publication is based on the practical experience from 10 river basins in the UNECE region, and gives analysis of situations, problems, challenges, and possible solutions.
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  • Foreword
    Since the beginning of the century, more than 3 million people have been affected by floods in the region of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), 1.9 million in Eastern Europe alone. Extreme flood events and the economic, social and environmental impacts and losses in human life they cause have significantly increased in recent years. Against this already serious background, enhanced climate variability and climate change are expected to increase the frequency and intensity of floods.
  • Preface
    Floods do not respect boundaries, be they national, regional or institutional. Therefore, trans-boundary flood risk management is imperative – it involves both Governments – as borders are involved – and their people – as risk is involved. However, it is not easy to implement: joint monitoring, forecasting and early warning, coordinated risk assessment and joint planning of measures, and appropriate legal and institutional frameworks are all necessary.
  • Acknowledgements
    This publication was prepared and designed by Michael van der Valk, CROSSVISION, in cooperation with the UNECE Water Convention secretariat (Sonja Koeppel and Francesca Bernardini). It is based on the discussions held at the Workshop on Transboundary Flood Risk Management (Geneva, 22–23 April 2009).
  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Summary
    Floods are natural phenomena that are necessary for the survival and health of the eco-system. Floodplains have historically attracted socio-economic development and continue to support high densities of human population. This is particularly important where land resources suitable for human development are scarce. Especially in arid and semi-arid areas, flood waters represent a vital water resource. Floods can, however, also lead to wide-spread damage, health problems and the loss of human life. This is especially the case where development activities in the river channel and the adjacent floodplain have been pursued without taking into account the associated risks.
  • Introduction
    Floods are natural climate-driven processes. In recent decades, major floods in Europe have caused fatalities, population displacement and great economic loss, and have had huge impacts on nature. At the same time, however, it is important to remember that floods can also be beneficial for society. Appropriate flood management strategies are required to balance development needs and flood risk.
  • International guidelines and regulations for flood risk management
    Integrated flood management (IFM) refers to the integration of land and water management in a river basin using a combination of measures. These focus on coping with floods within a frame-work of integrated water resources management (IWRM) and adopting risk management principles, while at the same time recognizing that floods have beneficial impacts and can never be fully controlled.
  • Joint flood forecasting, flood warning and exchange of data
    For effective and efficient flood risk management, it is essential to have in-depth knowledge of the functioning of the water system and the prevailing hazards and risks. Thorough knowledge forms the core of the flood risk management cycle. For every element, from prevention to recovery, reliable information is needed in order to develop the best mix of strategies. The role of information in flood risk management is illustrated in figure 4.
  • Joint flood risk management planning and implementation
    Flood risk management planning – for example as prescribed in the EU Floods Directive – focuses on the reduction of the potential adverse consequences of flooding for human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity, on non-structural initiatives and on reduction of the likelihood of flooding. Flood risk management plans should aim to maximize the benefits of living in floodplains while minimizing the potential burden. They should focus on prevention, protection and preparedness.
  • Institutional and legal arrangements for cooperation
    Being an interdisciplinary challenge, flood management calls for interaction between various disciplines, government and various sectors of society. There is a need to overcome sectoral approaches so that the synergies between the actions of various stakeholders can be maximized and effectiveness can be increased. Institutional and legal arrangements are necessary elements of successful integrated flood risk management. In the case of transboundary basins, this includes the need to cooperate at the transboundary level.
  • Wrap-up and recommendations
    Floods can have beneficial effects if managed properly and at the river basin scale. The flood risk management cycle should form the basis for comprehensive cooperation: lessons from experiences should be assessed, documented and taken into account in the flood risk cycle, but also shared with other countries. Various layers and opportunities are available to establish trans-boundary cooperation.
  • References
  • Annexes
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