Judged by its likelihood and impact, climate change is number 1 and flooding number 9 in the 2011 top 10 of global risks. These two risks are clearly related. Climate change is expected to result in sea-level rise and to induce more extreme weather events. As a result, modifications in frequency, severity and duration of hydrometeorological hazards will occur. Water level patterns in rivers are expected to change and the flash flood hazard is expected to increase in frequency and severity.
Even without taking climate change into account, the potential consequences of these extreme weather events are intensified due to population growth, economic growth and urbanization. These consequences will be suffered by the whole EU, due to interdependencies between economic sectors and between regions. Urban areas in particular face increasing flood risks. Between 2000 and 2005, Europe suffered more than 100 floods, including nine major flood disasters. These major flood events caused 155 casualties and economic losses of more than € 35 billion. Furthermore, the material flood damage of 2002 is estimated to be higher than in any previous single year. Both urbanization and the regional consequences of climate change are associated with large uncertainties. In order to deal with these risks and uncertainties successfully, EU Member States face the challenge of improving their flood risk strategies.