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Reducing vulnerability of urban lowland areas


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Presentation presented at 11icud conference in eEdinburgh in 2008. 4 components to reduce vulnerability are presented: 1) Threshold capacity, 2) coping capacity 3) recovery capacity and 4) adaptive capacity. For a comprehensive approach to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience, all 4 capacities need to be taken into account.

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Reducing vulnerability of urban lowland areas

  1. 1. ‘Reducing vulnerability of urban lowland areas’ Rutger de Graaf
  2. 2. Acknowledgements
  3. 3. The concept of vulnerability • Why is it important: • Objective of society to become less vulnerable to environmental variation such as variation of water resources and variation of water levels • Future variation is uncertain
  4. 4. The concept of vulnerability • A common definition of vulnerability: ‘sensitivity of a system for exposure to shocks, stresses and disturbances, or the degree to which a system is susceptible to adverse effects’ (Leurs, 2003; Turner et al., 2003; IPCC, 2001; Schiller et al, 2001) • Disturbances or can be both exogenous or endogenous. (eg. A drought can be caused by low precipitation, bad water management or both)
  5. 5. The concept of vulnerability • Possible responses towards environmental variation that reduce vulnerability: • Reduce (or control!) environmental variation  Building a threshold, example: • Reduce damage if this threshold is exceeded  Develop ability to cope with impacts • Recover quickly and effectively after damage has occurred  Develop ability to recover • If future variation is uncertain and potential impacts are large  Develop ability to adapt
  6. 6. Type Time orientation Responsibility Threshold Capacity Damage prevention Past Clear Coping Capacity Damage reduction Instant Not clear Recovery Capacity Damage reaction Instant/ future Not clear Adaptive Capacity Damage anticipation Future Undefined The concept of vulnerability
  7. 7. Flood control Flood control Water supply Water supply Threshold Capacity Higher dikes Increase river capacity Increased reservoir capacity More efficient supply infra Coping Capacity Improve risk perception Emergency plan & warning Backup supply facilities Individual storage Recovery Capacity Disaster funds & Insurance Recovery plans Multi-source water supply Disaster funds & Insurance Adaptive Capacity Flood proof & flexible urbanization Small scale pilot projects Flexible portfolio of sources Small scale pilot projects The concept of vulnerability
  8. 8. The concept of vulnerability • Vulnerability of a system is difficult to assess because components of vulnerability are strongly interrelated. • Example: Increased flood defense (threshold capacity) leads to increased urbanization and a decreased flood risk perception (coping capacity).
  9. 9. Dutch vulnerability lock in Coping Capacity Adaptive Capacity Threshol d Capacity Recovery Capacity Urbanization Increased flood risk Higher dikes & pumping capacity Urbanization Vulnerable delta Land subsidence Increased vulnerability Lock-in
  10. 10. Threshold capacity
  11. 11. Coping capacity
  12. 12. Recovery capacity
  13. 13. Adaptive capacity
  14. 14. Concluding remarks • If we accept that we cannot completely control environmental variation, developing threshold capacity only will make us vulnerable for rarely occurring, high impact flood events and drought events • 4 components of vulnerability framework may assist in developing more comprehensive strategies • Governance mechanisms to successfully introduce the 4 capacities in everyday practice of citizens and professionals are still lacking
  15. 15. Questions Literature: • Water Science and Technology, Vol 56 No 4, pp 165-173 • Natural Hazards, 2008 • Urban Water in Japan, Taylor& Francis Urban Water Series vol 11