In May 2019 the Environment Agency launched a consultation to seek views on its draft strategy that sets out a vision for a nation ready for, and resilient to, flooding and coastal change now and in the future. The revised Strategy is due for publication in Spring 2020. This paper summarises the Grantham Research Institute and CCCEP’s submission to the consultation. A pre-published version was submitted to the consultation on 4 July 2019.

The Grantham Research Institute has been actively working with policymakers and researchers for a decade to address issues around climate change adaptation and flooding. The evidence provided in this submission is based on this work, in particular the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance project, where we are collaborating with communities at risk of flooding; the EU-FP7 project ENHANCE, which focused on flood insurance; our work on the UK Climate Change Risk Assessments (CCRAs) 2 and 3, which explores risks to businesses and industry; and recent engagements with the Geneva Association on Flood Risk Governance in England and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership on implications of flood risk for mortgage portfolios. The Institute also works closely with the financial sector on integrating physical climate risk such as flood risk into scenario planning.

Summary recommendations

The authors and their host institutions support the development of the Environment Agency’s Draft National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy as it is both timely and needed. They also welcome the fact that the Environment Agency is taking the lead on strategic thinking and planning on flood management. They support the vision outlined in the Strategy, in particular the long time horizon to 2100. However, they see a number of ways to further strengthen the vision of the Strategy and group their recommendations within three broad categories:

  1. Flood resilience cannot be considered in isolation. Instead it must be mainstreamed into thinking and planning with respect to future climate change and broader economic and social policy, and should be holistic in its definition, including through increased emphasis on surface water flooding.
  2. High-level strategic thinking needs to be backed up by policy, regulation and funding. This will require collaboration with other agencies that have the regulatory power and mandate to fulfil some of the functions identified in the Strategy.
  3. Effective communication is vital. The Strategy should develop and disseminate a clear narrative on the importance and benefits of flood resilience, including through communicating both the incentives for acting and the risks associated with not doing so.
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