WIT Press

How Economics Can Help To Guide Decision Making In Flood Risk Management


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WIT Press


N Gendreau, F Grelot, B Guillaume & M P Guichon


In general, in many countries, public decisions about flood management are essentially based on administrative and technical criteria. Scientific hydrological knowledge allows for a good description of flooding phenomena (intensity, frequency, extension of the flood...). The stakes’ determination gives an estimation of priorities (physical interactions between hazard and vulnerable elements, financial estimation of potential damages...). The simulation of scenarios helps the determination of structural and non-structural measures (protections such as dikes, town planning rules.. .). However, none of these methods take into account the opinion of the citizens concerned or of the river users at the basin scale. As a result, solutions are not always accepted very well by the population. Some friction usually appears and sometimes the decision process can be completely stopped. Citizens may feel unrepresented and the decision makers can find themselves isolated in their responsibility. Economic theory proposes methods and tools that can help the decision making process. Some economic methods can take into account population opinions, but need to be adapted to the specific consideration of flood management, such as the notion of flood risk and the spatial distribution of flood water. The contingent valuation method provides a very attractive concept but its main problem lies in the variable to estimate. How is it possible to express a monetary value for a better protection, or for less floods ? To encourage better integration between popular opinion and flood risk management, this paper proposes some adaptations of an economic model already available. It presents some results of a survey on a French flood prone area and concludes with recommendations.