3.2 Governance arrangements in the STAR-FLOOD countries

Governance arrangements for flood risk management differ strongly between the STAR-FLOOD countries. In Belgium competences for water management and spatial planning have been transferred to the regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels). Each region has its own actors, legislation and policies. The regional water system arrangements are highly fragmented in terms of actors. Competences are divided over 4 categories of watercourses, which each have different water managers. In order to increase the coordination between the water managers of all levels and with the spatial planning department, the Flemish government installed a Coordination Committee on Integrated Water Policy (CIW) in 2003. In the same year, the Walloon government took a similar initiative with the Horizontal Flood Group (GTI). At basin level, integrated water management is pursued by the basin boards in Flanders and the river contracts in Wallonia. Crisis management and insurance are coordinated at the federal level.

In England the Risk Management Authorities are identified in the Flood and Water Management Act 2010: Environment agency, Lead Local Flood Authority, Internal Drainage Board, District Councils, Highways Agency and Water Companies. Yet, there are many more stakeholders influencing flood risk management, such as spatial planners. The English governance is built up of many sub-arrangements with separate policies, legislation and informal rules. These different arrangements are well aligned and linked. Funding for defence and mitigation mainly comes from the national level. In addition Partnership Funding allows public and privatfe funding to be sought. Furthermore, insurance companies play an important role in the recovery. The insurance system is currently in transition (see §7.2.1).


The main actors in flood risk management in France are central and local public authorities. A process of decentralisation has been started, but has not yet been fully realised. The State still maintains a central position through the production of legislation and policies and the control of procedures, while responsibilities for infrastructures is devolved to the municipal level. The principal resources for measures come from the National Fund for Major Natural Hazards (also known as the “Barnier Fund”), which is funded by taxes on home insurance contracts (see §7.2.3).

In The Netherlands water system management and flood risk management (focusing on defence) is traditionally the responsibility of the ministry and the regional water authorities. Provinces and municipalities are involved in spatial planning and sewerage and urban water management. The Safety regions are in charge of coordinating disaster management. The government is responsible for meeting legal safety standards for dikes, as stated the Water Act (2009), which are currently updated to reflect a basic safety level for each inhabitant as well as economic value and group risk. The authorities developed several relevant integrated policies, such as the National Water Plan and Delta Programme. The national and regional authorities involved have a lot of specialised technical expertise and can count on sufficient financing though national and regional taxes.

In Poland the Regional Authorities of Drainage, Irrigation and Infrastructure (WZMiUW) are responsible for 94% of the flood defences. The remaining 6% fall under the responsibility of local administration or Regional Water Management Boards. WZMiUWs are supervised by the provincial governments, but have close links to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The Water Framework Directive and the Flood Directive stimulated fast change, leading to integrated risk analysis and management. The 1997 floods also triggered legislative and organizational reforms, including the Water Act (2001), Act on State of Natural Disasters (2002) and Act on Crisis Management (2007). Flood defence measures are mainly financed by central government. The defence strategy is gradually more supported by preparation and prevention strategies.

Whereas in most countries national authorities play an important role in flood risk management, Sweden lacks a central overarching agency for flood risk management. It also lacks a national flood risk management strategy. Yet, it has a series of environmental objectives for 2020 in place that partially touch upon flood risk issues. This results in the scattering of flood risk issues across the policy areas of environment, spatial planning and housing, each of which have their key legislative instruments. The main actors in Swedish flood risk management are the municipalities. They are responsible for emergency management, spatial planning, water and sewerage. They are supported by regional and national authorities. Most of the financial resources come from taxes and charges at the local level. Costs are borne by the party that benefits the most from a measure. Furthermore, insurance companies play an important role in flood recovery.