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How flood projects influence urban flood resilience. A case study from Christchurch, New Zealand

Doornkamp, T.J.L. (2020) How flood projects influence urban flood resilience. A case study from Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Abstract:More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, and over two-thirds of the world’s cities will be exposed to flooding within the next 30 years. The projected impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise and an increased likelihood of heavy storms, further increases the need to enhance urban flood resilience. This paper adopts a holistic approach to assess to what extent and why a flood project contributes to urban flood resilience. It combines engineering and social aspects of resilience, with specific attention for the role of the process design, and governance context in which the flood project took place. The approach includes six steps: (1) characterizing the urban system, (2) characterizing the flood project and context, (3) assessing the impact of the project on functional resilience, (4) explaining the functional resilience impact, (5) assessing the impact of the project on adaptive capacity, (6) explaining the adaptive capacity impact. For the functional resilience assessment, a set of ‘resilience principles’ was used: homeostasis, omnivory, high flux, flatness, buffering, and redundancy. For the adaptive capacity assessment, two hundred sixty adult residents were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Participants were asked about their involvement in the project, their knowledge, risk perception, perceived adaptive capacity, and motivation. The approach was applied to the Dudley Creek flood project in Christchurch, New Zealand. The study revealed that the flood project as a whole increased the urban flood resilience of the system, both improving functional resilience and adaptive capacity. The project impact was limited in particular with regard to local competences, as the project underutilized the principles of flatness and redundancy, and was not found to significantly impact the motivation and perceived adaptive capacity of citizens. To enlarge the resilience impact of future flood projects, the current study recommends that resilience and local competency targets are incorporated into the project goals. Citizens should be encouraged and facilitated to engage in the response, and to self-respond, to disturbances on a regular basis. A personal/direct engagement approach, two-way dialogue, clear roles for participation, and transparency in decision-making are key. Keywords: Flood resilience, Urban system, Adaptive capacity, Citizen engagement, Governance, Process design
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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