WIT Press

Equity And Efficiency Considerations In Setting Standards For Flood Protection


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

669 - 679




4089 kb


H. van der Most


The current standards for flood protection in The Netherlands are some 50 years old. The growth, in both the number of people and the assets to be protected, calls for a revision of these standards. In setting new standards, trade-offs have to be made (again) between goals of economic efficiency and societal equity. The current standards show only limited regional differentiation in the level of protection against floods. Preliminary cost benefit analyses, as well as studies on casualty risk, indicate that a larger differentiation could be justified on economic grounds. The question is, however, whether this will be acceptable from a societal point of view or not. To this end the paper will discuss the findings of surveys of public perception of flood risk, including perceptions of whether it is right or acceptable to differentiate in the level of protection of different parts of the country. The paper will also present and discuss the outcomes of round table discussions with decision-makers, representatives of NGOs and the business community. The surveys of public perception showed more support for differentiation than decision-makers were inclined to expect during the round table discussions. The paper will conclude with suggestions on how to deal with the tension between equity and efficiency in a constructive manner. This includes broadening the base of the current standards with an explicit consideration of casualty risk. Keywords: flood risk management, standards, flood protection, economic efficiency, social equity, risk perception, The Netherlands.


flood risk management, standards, flood protection, economicefficiency, social equity, risk perception, The Netherlands