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Natural solutions and community resilience key concerns for flood risk management

Centre news

An event on flood risk management that featured interactive “live learning” by polling the audience produced its own data set for use by researchers, stakeholders and local government.

Streaming: Getting the social in flood policy used handheld devices to facilitate audience voting on a range of questions about participants’ experiences of flooding,  the causes  of it and solutions for coping with increased flood risk. Natural solutions and community resilience emerged as key areas of interest from the audience.

The ESRC Festival of Social Science special event, jointly organised by CCCEP and the Priestley International Centre for Climate,  was held at the University of Leeds on Monday 7 November. It also featured a debate on flood risk management with panellists Dr Rosalind Bark (European Commission Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Fellow), Cllr Lucinda Yeadon (Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council and Executive Member for Environment and Sustainability), Jonathan Moxon (Flood Risk Manager, Leeds City Council) and Stephen Curry (Upper Calder Valley Renaissance  Business Flood Recovery Team).

Clips were also shown from the film Calder, made by Paula Sutherland, about the personal experiences of residents of Mytholmroyd who suffered devastating impacts from the 2015 floods.

Professor Jouni Paavola, who introduced and chaired the debate, said he was pleased with the outcome of the event: “The audience  gave us new ideas to explore and affirmed the relevance of some other ones we at the University of Leeds are already working on.”

Dr Rosalind Bark, who was part of the team that put together the event, said: “Streaming was conceived to be more interactive and engaging than traditional academic lectures. Our objective was to bridge the gap between what the academic organisers and the decision makers in the audience and on the panel think they know is important, and what people really value and think.


Dr Rosalind Bark (left) and Dr Julia Martin-Ortega present the questions to the audience at the Streaming event

“The live polling results of a diverse audience showed that although few people had direct experience with flooding more than 60% had indirect experience with flooding of local businesses and with disruption to travel transport. The audience thought climate change and building in the floodplains were equally important causes of flood damage in West Yorkshire and over half believed they were more likely to be impacted by flooding in the future.

“Perhaps not surprisingly, given that few people had directly experienced flooding, most in the audience saw themselves as less vulnerable to flooding as compared to others in their community but an overwhelming majority thought we need to make large improvements to cope with flood risk and that funding should shift towards nature based solutions and fully utilising local knowledge.”

The academics plan to write up the research with a focus on the process of engagement and public testimony.

View the slides of the questions and results: streaming-results

The film Calder can be viewed here.

A recording of the entire event is available here.

Hear an interview with the panellists by Keeley Donovan on Paul Hudson’s Weather Show for BBC Radio Leeds and Lincoln here.

Further resources



Photo: HebWeb