Workshop on implementation of Floods Directive

Over fifty participants from over 20 EU member states convened on October 16 to discuss the implementation of the EU Floods Directive in an interactive workshop. They exchanged experiences on the formulation of objectives and the selection and prioritization of measures, which are required for the preparation of Flood Risk Management Plans that all EU Member States should issue no later than December 22nd 2015. The workshop was organized by the Working Group on Floods of the Common Implementation Strategy committee structure established for the Water Framework and Floods Directives and the STAR-FLOOD project. Results of the workshop include good practices, remaining challenges and knowledge needs. The fruitful workshop is a good basis for further science-policy cooperation between the WG F and STAR-FLOOD.

In preparation of the workshop each Member state was asked to fill out a questionnaire on the objectives, measures, prioritization, implementation challenges and knowledge needs. The workshop started with a presentation of the questionnaire results. These indicated that the Member States are applying an increasingly broad set of flood risk management strategies. A subtle shift towards more non-structural measures such as preparation for a flood event is going on. The results also pointed out many similarities and differences in how the members states organize their implementation process. The main barriers in the implementation process, according to the questionnaire, are related to insufficient funding, fragmented responsibilities and dealing with different public and political expectations. After the presentation of the questionnaire results, Austria, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium and the ICPR presented their good implementation practices and STAR-FLOOD linked the questionnaire results to their research objectives.

After lunch, the participants split into three break out groups for some more in-depth discussion on the workshop topics. Questions addressed included, for instance, “are the objectives defined in such a way that progress can be measured?”, “are measures only evaluated against economic criteria or also against broader societal values?” and “what is the role of the general public and of private parties in the implementation?”. The main conclusions of the workshop are:

• The process of setting objectives and defining and prioritizing measures are linked within EU Member States, but there are large differences between the countries. Some of them have progressed more than others;
• There is some evidence that the Floods Directive fulfils an agenda setting function, fuelling debates on new Flood Risk Management measures.

The workshop was also aimed at discovering the knowledge needs of the WG F members.  This resulted in a wide range of questions that need to be addressed, including:

• What are the effects of climate change and socio-economic developments?
• How to set SMART objectives? Including different user needs and integrating objectives of the Flood directive and Water Framework Directives;
• How can land use planning reduce flood risk?
• How to increase flood risk awareness?
• How to determine effectiveness of measures?
• How to monetise costs and benefits, in particular related to damage to environment, social and cultural heritage?
• How to prioritise measures?
• How to bridge fragmented responsibilities (between levels, sectors, public-private, etc)?
• How to bridge fragmented sources of financing?
• How to improve decision-making and communication?

These questions will be further addressed by exchange of experiences in the WG F, and by natural and social scientific research. Many of the questions raised are related to public administration and legal expertise. STAR-FLOOD will address these questions.

WG-F and STAR-FLOOD will together produce a more detailed report on the workshop, including a reflection on the way in which STAR-FLOOD can maximally contribute to the implementation of the Floods Directive. It is expected that a discussion on the main results of the STAR-FLOOD project will take place in the context of another workshop adjacent to the WG-F meeting late 2015 or early 2016.