Background and Aim
The project aimed to adapt existing water management systems to the effects of extreme flood events due to climate change, focusing on sustainable development of society and regional economies.
SAWA built onto the following aims:
- Improve, facilitate and accelerate the implementation of the new Flood Directive by developing a common planning and implementation strategy based on experience from a number of cases in the North Sea Region
- Work out a decision strategy on how to use and prioritise new adaptive measures in Flood Risk Management Plans closely coordinated with the EU Water Framework Directive implementation process to show synergetic potentials
- Develop and compile new adaptive structural and non-structural flood mitigation measures and schemes to improve water management systems in the North Sea Region
- Prepare institutional, expert and public structures for an optimal implementation and operational capability of the Flood Directive in coordination with Water Framework Directive, focusing on education, communication, capacity building and adaptive measures.
Looking at climate change as a driver for a very likely increase in regional risk of flooding, it will be one of the major challenges for future Flood Risk Management tasks in this century. It is widely believed, that adaptation will be one of the key strategies to cope with this threat. Large parts of the North Sea Region are low lying areas. Hence in many of these areas the risk of fluvial flooding caused by more frequent heavy rainfall is putting pressure onto regional decision makers and stakeholders.
On EU level, water policy has been strengthened by the adopted Flood Directive. It demands an integrated Flood Risk Management on a river basin level with a close link to the EU Water Framework Directive. The implementation bares great challenges for all, especially knowing the differences in legal, institutional and societal conditions in the member states. Both directives demand an integrated water management approach on a river basin level.
How such a management system can be implemented cost-effectively and what kinds of changes to institutional structures, stakeholder involvement, education and communication, etc. are needed, is not clear. Three key areas have been identified where water management can be improved supporting sustainable regional development.
- How can local decision making be an integral part of catchment based planning applying the concept of Flood Risk Management Plans?
- How can measures be more locally adaptive without loosing effectiveness on a catchment scale?
- How must education and communication be improved to optimally integrate stakeholders on all levels?
These challenges required a transnational, interdisciplinary team with partners from all administrative levels (national to local) to assure a practical implementation together with scientific research institutions that were working toward the goals adapting education, management systems and mitigation measures to a changing environment.