What's your flood risk? Prof. Daniel Henstra offers policy tools to mitigate risk

Monday, March 25, 2019

Flooding is Canada’s most common and costly natural hazard. A new policy brief co-authored by Professor Daniel Henstra of the Department of Politial Science offers a framework to help city officials protect their residents and mitigate flood risk.

Managing Urban Flood Risk: A Framework for Evaluating Alternative Policy Tools was just published by Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) to guide city officials in their evaluation, prioritization and selection of flood risk management (FRM) strategies

“Governments have increasingly shifted responsibility to homeowners to manage flood prevention and protection,” explains Henstra, a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and wrote the brief with Profesor Jason Thistlethwaite of the Faculty of Environement.

“Floods cause more property damage than any other hazard in Canada, so residents should be questioning whether their city is equipped with the right policy tools to mitigate flood risk.”

Henstra’s research centres on multilevel governance of complex policy areas such as climate change adaptation and emergency management - with a particular focus on networked relationships among politicians, public servants, stakeholders and the public.

According to Henstra and Thistlethwaite, city governments can maximize the effectiveness of flood risk management by employing policy tools that balance three key objectives: resiliency, efficiency and legitimacy. A city’s contextual factors, such as its level of flood risk, degree of public awareness and available resources, must also be considered when prioritizing the objectives.

“Once a city has established its flood risk management priorities, then it can identify which policy tools to consider,” explains Thistlethwaite, also a CIGI senior fellow. “Knowing the city’s key flood risk managment objectives can balance the difficult trades-offs that may be needed, like whether the urgency of flood risk should supersede cost concerns."


Story adapted from a Centre for International Governance Innovation media release.

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