April 3, 2014, by Blue-Green team
National Flood Forum Annual Conference
Community Flood Risk Management : Improving effectiveness and efficiency
On 13th March, Shaun Maskrey and Glyn Everett visited London to attend the National Flood Forum’s 2014 Annual Conference, entitled Community Flood Risk Management : Improving effectiveness and efficiency. This was a very interesting day, which began with talks from Dan Rogerson MP, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Barry Gardiner MP, Labour’s Shadow Floods Minister. The two were not on stage at the same time, which was unfortunate as this could have led to some interesting debate, but understandable given the demands upon their time. Also presenting were Robbie Craig and Mary Stevens from DEFRA, Pete Fox from the Environment Agency, Katharine Knox from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and of course Paul Cobbing, Chief Executive at the National Flood Forum.
Conference outputs, including the presentations and programme, can be downloaded from the conference website.
The main theme of the day was around developing community resilience to flooding and the need to involve and build communities into flood risk management planning. As part of this, there were presentations from a number of DEFRA Community Flood Resilience Pathfinder projects talking about the work they have been doing to listen to and try to give voice to local communities.
The scheme was launched in 2012 to ‘enable and stimulate communities at significant or greater risk of flood to work with key partners … to develop innovative [flood risk] solutions’ (DEFRA, 2012). These solutions had to focus on quantifiably improving community resilience, demonstrating financial robustness and being both sustainable and transferable. It seems a big ask, but following a tough selection process, thirteen communities from across the UK were selected to benefit from a share of the £5 million fund set aside by DEFRA to establish projects which will run until early 2015. The selected communities were;
- West Sussex
Details of the individual projects can be found on the DEFRA website.
In the two breaks at lunchtime and mid-afternoon, the Pathfinder projects set up marketplace-style stands to share details of their work. This encouraged open conversations around their activities and goals, and enabled many attendees to gain a better understanding of the individual Pathfinder activities. Just after lunch, Clare Twigger-Ross and Paula Orr from Collingwood Environmental Planning (evaluators for the Pathfinder scheme) presented an overview of all thirteen projects and some preliminary results that have come out from them. This included information on how communities understand resilience, demographic details illustrating the diversity of the communities, and an overview of the different approaches being trialled (developing social, economic, institutional, infrastructure and community capital).
All in all, the conference made for a very interesting day with a number of excellent presentations and good space to meet and talk with other attendees and people engaged with the Pathfinder projects. The emphasis upon community voice, resilience and engagement felt strongly positive; hopefully this is something DEFRA will continue to push forward and work with the National Flood Forum to do so.
Blog post by Glyn Everett and Shaun Maskrey.