Responding to flood risk in China

Professor Jim Hall, Director of the Environmental Change Institute, has jointly edited a special issue of the Journal of Flood Risk Management, which presents important lessons learned from a flood risk management project in China.

The Taihu Basin, located on the southern side of the estuary of the Yangtze River, is remarkably vulnerable to flooding. Major floods occurred in 1991 and 1999 and were associated with water levels that exceeded historical records. Damage was extensive and the events received significant attention from both local and central government.

The UK Government’s Chief Scientist, Sir David King, visited China in 2004 to cultivate scientific collaboration. During has visit it was decided to apply the methods of flood risk analysis and scenario analysis – developed in the recently completed UK Foresight project on Flood and Coastal Defence – to the Taihu Basin area. Funding was provided for a Chinese Foresight flooding project by the UK and Chinese governments and United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs. The project was launched under the auspices of the China-UK Science and Technology Commission in 2006 and was completed in 2009. It considered how the risks of flooding in the Taihu Basin might change over the next 50 years, as well as the best options for Government and other stakeholders for responding to future challenges.

The Taihu Basin Foresight Project involved collaborative work by researchers and practitioners in institutions in the UK and China, including numerous bilateral visits. It revealed a number of important lessons about flood risk management in rapidly developing countries, which form the basis of this special issue of the Journal of Flood Risk Management.

The project provides a blueprint for how the impacts of long-term changes in flood risk, driven by climatic and socio-economic changes among other processes, may be analysed in order to provide the evidence needed to inform adaptation decisions.

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