Bridges over troubled water – Towards an interdisciplinary framework for evaluating the interconnectedness within fragmented domestic flood risk management systems

Herman Kasper Gilissen (Lead Author), Meghan Alexander, Jean-Christophe Beyers, Piotr Chmielewski, Piotr Matczak, Thomas Schellenberger, Cathy Suykens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diversification of strategies in Flood Risk Management (FRM) is widely regarded as a necessary step forward in terms of lessening the likelihood and magnitude of flooding, as well as minimizing the exposure of people and property, and in turn the disruption, economic damage, health impacts and other adverse consequences that ensue when floods occur. Thus, diversification is often heralded as an essential condition for enhancing societal resilience to flooding. However, an inevitable consequence of diversifying strategies and practices in FRM is that it can lead to fragmentation within FRM systems, in terms of the distribution of responsibilities between actors and governing rules enacted within different policy domains. This can prove detrimental to the effectiveness of FRM.

Building upon the notion of fragmentation developed in legal and governance literature, this paper introduces the concept of ‘bridging mechanisms’, i.e. instruments that remedy fragmentation by enhancing interconnectedness between relevant actors through information transfer, coordination and cooperation. This paper develops a typology of both fragmentation and bridging mechanisms and analyzes their relations, partly drawing upon empirical research conducted within the EU ‘STAR-FLOOD’ project. In turn, this paper outlines a novel interdisciplinary methodological framework for evaluating the degree and quality of the interconnectedness within fragmented domestic FRM systems. A pragmatic, flexible and broadly applicable tool, this framework is both suited for academic purposes, as well as for practically oriented analysis and (re)development of fragmented FRM systems, and potentially other fragmented systems, within the EU and abroad.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-26
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Water and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Governance
  • Fragmentation
  • Bridging mechanisms
  • Flood risk management

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