Enhancing Flood Resilience and Climate Adaptation: The State of the Art and New Directions for Spatial Planning

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The need to respond to increasing flood risk, climate change, and rapid urban development has shaped innovative policies and practices of spatial planning in many countries over recent decades. As an instrumental–technical intervention, planning is mainly used to improve the physical environment (through concepts such as regulating waterproof facades of architecture, setting buffering zones, and designing green–blue corridors). However, the implementation of the proposed physical interventions is often challenging and necessitates assistance from practices such as climate assessment, policy disciplines, civil societies, and economic resources. These extensive perspectives have spawned many new research domains in the realm of spatial planning. This paper provides a review of the recent developments in flood resilience, risk management, and climate adaptation; based on this, it positions planning research and practice within these works of literature. Four clusters of thought are identified, mainly in the European and American scholarship of the last two decades. They are environmental concerns, disaster management concerns, socio-economic concerns, and institutional concerns. Current planning research concentrates on disaster management in the underlying belief that planning is functionally efficient. The attention to environmental concerns, socio-economic concerns, and institutional concerns of planning research remains insufficient but has been growing. This, in turn, enlarges the scope of planning research and indicates future directions for study. These new concerns relate to spatial planning’s ability to operate effectively in a multi-sectoral setting, despite limited resources and in the face of uncertain risk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7864
Number of pages24
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Flood resilience
  • Flood risk
  • Literature review
  • Spatial planning


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