Workshop Flood Risk Management in Flanders and Wallonia

On 26 March 2015, the Belgian STAR-FLOOD team organized a national workshop on their research in Brussels. In this news item you can find out more about the goal of the workshop, its programme and follow-up.

Goal of the workshop

The principal aim of the so-called Belgian national workshop was to disseminate recent knowledge the Belgian STAR-FLOOD team has built up on flood risk governance in their country. They brought actors, involved within the Belgian flood risk governance, together and organized a joint reflection on the current strengths and weaknesses of flood risk management in Flanders and Wallonia. They also discussed on how these strengths/weaknesses could be improved/overcome.

By presenting the STAR-FLOOD-results to the principal actors, the workshop also allowed the researchers to test their results and to identify remaining gaps in their research.

The workshop was a success with 81 registrations. There was a well-spread mix of officials and citizens. Participants came from Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, from all government levels and all for flood policy relevant sectors.

Programme of the workshop

The workshop started with an introductory presentation by Ann Crabbé, in which the STAR-FLOOD project was briefly presented, as well as the results of the national analysis and case study analysis . More specifically, Ann Crabbé situated some trends and challenges.

After this first introductory presentation, the programme continued with two times two parallel sessions:
1. Parallel sessions part 1:
a. Flood risk governance with 3Ps, everyone prepared?
b. The river basin approach and flood policy: does the shoe pinch?
2. Parallel sessions part 2:
a. The river basin approach in practice: learning from the river contracts in Wallonia
b. Water and spatial planning, is there still room for improvement?

The workshop was concluded with a presentation by Dries Hegger on the similarities and differences in the STAR-FLOOD countries and with some closing words and acknowledgements by Ann Crabbé.

Follow-up of the workshop

The workshop confirmed many of the findings in the STAR-FLOOD research. Also some issues were identified that need specific attention, e.g. how the knowledge exchange between the Flemish and Walloon Region can be improved. Although both Regions are a part of the same country and face very similar challenges, the actors involved in flood risk management very often do not know much about the approach in the other Region. Therefore, it is important that interregional events, such as this workshop, are organised. They enable, namely, that policy makers and practitioners in the field get to know each other (better).

Another issue that requires further follow-up is the ongoing debate on public and private responsibilities in flood risk management. There is not always consensus on where the responsibility of the government stops and those of the citizens begins.