Seminar: Making space for failure? Risk and management of flooding in Europe (9 Mar 16)

Wednesday 9 March 2016, 4-5.15pm, Seminar Room 8.119 (a/b), School of Earth and Environment

Speaker: David Demeritt, King’s College London

With flood losses rising and climate change projected to increase them, flooding is increasingly framed as a risk to be accepted and managed, rather than something that can be completely prevented through engineering flood defences. Indeed, many now speak of a ‘paradigm shift’ from flood control to flood risk management (FRM). This paper compares the institutional factors shaping whether and how risk ideas and policy instruments are being used to qualify and limit the formal goals of FRM in England, France, the Netherlands, and Germany. Findings challenge universalist accounts of risk as a uniquely rational basis for governance. Risk-based approaches embody particular understandings of the state and its obligations, which can conflict with embedded norms of governance and with entrenched societal expectations about how adverse outcomes should be managed, and, indeed, about the very meaning of governance ‘failure’ and ‘success’.

David Demeritt is Professor of Geography, best known for his ability to bridge the discipline’s human-physical divide. He has extensive practical experience of senior university management, of incubating and leading multidisciplinary environmental research projects, and of successfully collaborating with partners in government, NGOs, and industry.

This seminar is hosted by the Sustainability Research Institute.

Open to University of Leeds staff and students.