3.1 Flood risk governance arrangements

A growing body of scientific literature (e.g., Hegger et al. 2014; Mees et al 2013; Mostert et al 2008) and policy documents (e.g., the EU Floods Directive (2007); UNISDR Hyogo framework for action (2005) and OECD Water governance principles (2015)) point out that flood risk management is not exclusively a technical matter. The implementation of flood risk management strategies, as well as their mutual alignment or integration, is more and more considered a governance issue. A proper embedding of strategies in flood risk governance arrangements is essential for their successful implementation. In general we can say that the following elements have to be in place:

  1. the relevant actors, such as spatial planners, water managers, emergency services and insurance companies, take responsibility and collaborate to implement the strategy;
  2. the strategy is embedded in the actors’ discourses, e.g., in thinking, discussions and policies;
  3. the implementation is backed up by formal and informal rules; and
  4. the actors have the necessary power and resources (finances, knowledge, political and interaction skills).

These four dimensions are central in the STAR-FLOOD research. Table 3.1 illustrates the most relevant aspects within each dimension. All these governance aspects need to function together and any one missing link may hamper implementation. Basic requirements include a transparent societal debate and clear specification of normative objectives (such as acceptable protection levels), a clear division of responsibilities, structures for information, participation and collaboration of all relevant stakeholders, adequate legislation and policies, sufficient financing and transparent financing. Furthermore, as already mentioned in the previous chapter, instruments that link and align different strategies and governance arrangements should be in place to avoid fragmentation (see next chapter).

Table 3.1: Dimensions and underlying aspects of flood risk governance arrangements
governance arrangements

Actors Discourses Rules Power & Resources
  • Public actors
  • Private actors
  • Citizens
  • Coalitions and oppositions
  • Interaction patterns


  • Relevant scientific paradigms and uncertainties
  • Policy programmes, policy objectives (perceived issues) and policy concepts
  • Historical metaphors/narratives
  • Policy and Legal Principles
  • Legislation
  • Constitutional, procedural & substantive norms
  • Procedural instruments
  • Legal traditions
  • Cross-country and cross-sector alignment of rules (integration)
  • Policy and legal principles
  • Informal norms, culture
  • Legal authority, including the right to regulate property (expropriation)
  • Financial power
  • Knowledge
  • Informal political networks
  • Interaction skills