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The importance of flood risk and resilience research

Flood risk and resilience have been rising up global political, social, economic and environmental agendas over the last decades with events such as Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Katrina, and Storms Ciarán and Babet, and repeat flooding in the UK and elsewhere hitting the headlines frequently.

Flood risk is a global issue

Flooding is not only near the very top of the UK’s risk register, but also global flood risk and water crises have been identified as the biggest economic and social threats facing the planet over the next decade. Furthermore, according to the European Environment Agency (2016) report, flood losses are predicted to increase fivefold by 2050 due to climate change and increasing value of land around the floodplains, and continued urban development. Recent international legislative frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the New Urban Agenda, the UN Agenda 2030, and the Paris Climate Agreement have ensured that flood issues and flood-related cascading impacts are now a mainstay of global disaster risk reduction efforts. This combination of legally binding and voluntary agreements have been ratified worldwide providing new impetus for global to local action, as well as novel and innovative research and knowledge exchange platforms and support mechanisms.

Flooding in the UK

In the UK, flooding is a key priority in the Industrial Strategy, and reduced risk of harm from flooding is one of ten goals in Defra’s 25-year Environment Plan. The Environment Agency’s Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy, which was launched at Brunel University London on the 9th May 2019, also sets out a blend of short, medium and long-term ambitions for the future of Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management in England up to 2100. The Committee on Climate Change also highlighted the urgent need for new research to deliver long-term climate change adaptation and flood risk management ambitions. CFR2 is a direct response to these challenges. 

Delivering flood resilience globally

Flood risk is a near global issue, which is often addressed locally; and delivering flood resilience requires integrated thinking and a broad range of cross-sector and cross-discipline collaboration within and beyond the civil engineering industry. Working with industry, government, communities and other stakeholders, our research combines local case studies and problem-solving with generic social, scientific and engineering approaches to reducing and mitigating flood risk and enhancing societal resilience to climate-driven hydro-geo-meteorological hazards. We develop and apply innovative data analytics, modelling and visualisation tools, integrating latest data science (e.g., Big (Geospatial) Data), Deep/Machine Learning (DL/ML) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) approaches and emerging technologies to investigate the societal, environmental and sustainability challenges of climate change and flood risks. Our policy and industry-oriented research outputs provide the methods, tools/platforms and key scientific and engineering insights to help mitigate multi-hazard risks and promote sustainable and resilient infrastructure development and robust climate change adaptation decision-making.