Into Policy

All over Europe, there are increasing economic and social disparities between places and between people along with environmental risks and pressures. A new Territorial Agenda has been prepared to limit inequalities, which seeks to promote an inclusive and sustainable future for all places and to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This agenda emphasises that concerted action at all geographical and governance levels is needed to deliver inclusive outcomes. This points to the need to better understand and address territorial impacts of sector policies, including flood management policy.

The conventional response to manage flood risk has been to deliver project-based infrastructure responses, focusing on levees and dykes. Yet, a local ‘defence only’ paradigm is unlikely to manage risks in the short, medium and long term and promotes liveable regions, cities and towns, ecosystem health and social well-being—necessary to achieve the SDG targets. A new approach to managing flood risks is needed based on an adaptation process that is purposeful, collaborative and takes a whole-system, long term view. While new ideas and methods are being developed across the NSR (and beyond) to support planning for both existing and new infrastructure, the alignment of socio-economic policies and supporting governance systems across multiple sectors is often neglected. Hence getting the policy right for the future is essential.

C5a recognises this challenge and brings together policy, practice and science in developing guidance to support governmental authorities, practitioners and policymakers to adopt a Cloud-to-Coast approach to climate change adaptation. The Cloud-to-Coast approach integrates four constituent systems (catchment, coasts, cities, infrastructure networks) in an inclusive setting and enables the development of multifunctional and adaptable process solutions that delivers more sustainable, integrated and multifunctional solutions. This approach builds upon the outcomes of seven Interreg NSR projects, BEGIN, Building with Nature, CATCH, CANAPE, FAIR, FRAMES and Topsoil, along with other national and international partnerships.

The C5a project has produced a Policy Brief with four priority recommendations to support the uptake and implementation of the Cloud-to-Coast approach in practice.  These recommendations enable the consideration of risks and opportunities across the whole-system (from Cloud to Coast) and promote multi-level governance arrangements and mechanisms in support of a flood resilient society and the delivery of SDGs.

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Managing flood risk is central to a resilient society, but it is not the only goal. Focusing on increasing flood resilience is however a powerful leverage for sustainable development. Adaptation efforts should utilise place-making responsibilities to drive the work for people and nature in the short and long term.

Flood resilience requires planning across spatial (local to regional) and temporal scales (short to long term) as well as a multi- disciplinary and cross-sectoral approach. In the Dutch case in Coevorden, the collaborative process merged the knowledge on interventions at different spatial scales. Develop collaborative approaches that contribute across scales and perspectives.

Good decisions reflect all voices and may make use of compromise. In the UK case in Kent, an inclusive approach to engagement and community involvement helped to deliver an inclusive outcome. Ensure decision frameworks and funding arrangements enable compromise (when win-win outcomes are not possible) and actively support inclusive outcomes.

Knowledge and policy are both central in shaping the engagement in, and delivery of, flood resilience. In the UK case in Kent, a regional assessment of changing flood risks aided understanding and motivated action. Harness the dual drivers of innovation in science and evolving policy goals (at community and regional scales) to shape mainstream flood resilience practice, providing space for innovative and community lead solutions.

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