FRAMES Managers meet Regional Minister in The Hague
Luuk Boelens, professor at Ghent University, noticed that the way flood management is organized in the Netherlands is different from the Belgian situation. In the Netherlands the government takes care to a great extent, so people don’t feel the need to take any action or responsibility. In Belgium citizens are more used to be self supporting, their awareness is higher. But Boelens also emphasized that in the Netherlands there haven’t been many high impact incidents recently.
Risk or danger?
Trying to achieve a sense of urgency at citizens, entrepreneurs and politicians, the choice is to be made in strategy: do we focus on the risks or danger, or do we focus on chances and opportunities. Marcel Mathijsse, Safety Region Zeeland, was clear about this: “I don’t speak about risk anymore, I just call it as it is: danger. In our project I’m working on resilience for the critical infrastructure in the province of Zeeland. When there is a flood, although it may not occur that often, our people are in serious danger due to the direct or indirect effects of the water. Cascading effects due to disruption of transportation and critical infrastructure will influence much more then the flooded area itself. Dangers may evolve due to effects on post-seveso industry in the harbor area of the region.
One of the topics discussed are the costs. Carolyn McKenzie, Head of Sustainability and Climate Change at Kent County Council, emphasized the benefits you can get when you prepare and pay attention to resilience for flooding. The Kent region has to cope with flooding quite often. Having a lot of elderly homes makes the region even more vulnerable. Mckenzie made calculations to validate the costs an organization or company could save when considering measurements for flooding. From prevention to emergency plans and recovery. “We are rehearsing emergency simulations on a regular basis,” she added. Tjarko Wieringa, Finance Director at The Rivers Trust, referred to the Stern Report on Climate Change which had been commissioned by the UK Government and stated: “It has been demonstrated in the Stern Report that it is much cheaper to invest now to address climate change than to wait and deal in the future with its consequences.”
Talking about getting things done, McKenzie stresses to multiply. “When we have to do maintenance on our buildings, we try to combine as much as possible. So when we are insulating, we also make adjustments from the point of view to make the building resilient to flooding, at the same time we look at heat stress.” Everyone attending this meeting supported a final conclusion: “When we make resilience to flooding mainstream, it would be much easier to implement measurements.”