In their editorial, the researchers describe three of these lessons. First, governments will have to implement a wide range of strategies to deal with the problem. No country can allow itself to rest too heavily on a single strategy. However, the choice of strategies will have to take the country’s physical situation and existing policy context into consideration. Second, more diverse parties will have to be involved in formulating flood policies, including private actors and citizens and reinforcing the capacity of all levels of government. This will not only raise awareness of the risks among citizens and businesses, but will also offer concrete guidelines for further action. Finally, the authors recommend expanding the social debate about the acceptable risks posed by flooding. This debate will have to be accessible to everyone, so that stakeholders can contribute to deciding which risks are acceptable, and who should be held accountable for managing them.
A safe-fail system
The authors conclude that there is no magic bullet for managing the risks of flooding, but an intelligent expansion of strategies that use the input - and ask for permission - from public and private parties and citizens can make a vital contribution to enhancing flood resiliency. Such a resilient flood management policy would not only focus on absolute security, but rather be based on a ‘safe-fail’ principle: a system that is designed to fail safely from time to time.
Kundzewicz, Z.W., D.L.T. Hegger, P. Matczak, P.P.J. Driessen (2018). Flood risk reduction - structural measures and diverse strategies, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), vol. 115 (48), pp.