A framework for evaluating the effectiveness of flood emergency management systems in Europe

Herman Kasper Gilissen (Lead Author), Meghan Alexander, Piotr Matczak, Maria Pettersson, Silvia Bruzzone

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Calls for enhancing societal resilience to flooding are echoed across Europe alongside mounting evidence that flood risk will increase in response to climate change amongst other risk-enhancing factors. At a time where it is now widely accepted that flooding cannot be fully prevented, resilience discourse in public policy stresses the importance of improving societal capacities to absorb and recover from flood events. Flood emergency management has thus emerged as a crucial strategy in flood risk management. However, the extent to which emergency management supports societal resilience is dependent on the effectiveness of governance and performance in practice.

Drawing from the extensive body of literature documenting the success conditions of so-called effective emergency management more broadly, this study formulates an evaluation framework specifically tailored to the study of Flood Emergency Management Systems (FEMS) in Europe. Applying this framework, this research performs a cross-country comparison of FEMS in the Netherlands, England, Poland, France, and Sweden. Important differences are observed in how FEMS have evolved in relation to differing contextual backgrounds (political, cultural, administrative and socio-economic) and exposures to flood hazard. Whereas the organization and coordination of actors are functioning effectively, other aspects of effective FEMS are relatively under-developed in several countries, such as provisions for institutional learning, recovery-based activities and community preparedness. Drawing from examples of good practice, this paper provides a critical reflection on the opportunities and constraints to enhancing the effectiveness of FEMS in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Article number27
Number of pages16
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2016


  • Emergency management
  • Effectiveness
  • Evaluation framework

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