Tailored flood risk management: Accounting for socio-economic and cultural differences when designing strategies

Frans Klijn*, Marcel Marchand, Karen Meijer, Herman van der Most, Dana Stuparu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


Climate change and socio-economic development result in increasing flood risk which challenges flood risk management policy making and practice. Each situation, however, is different and calls for not only understanding the natural context, but also the socio-economic and cultural context. Only then Flood Risk Management strategies can be designed that are not only 1) fit for purpose but also 2) feasible for local implementation and 3) sustainable into the future. Flood consequences that are accepted in some cultures (fatalist), may not be acceptable in other cultures (controlist). This calls for considering the local normative context in order to understand current differences in policy and practice. More importantly, the design of strategic alternatives for Flood Risk Management into the future should consider this socio-economic and cultural context as well because not every society aims for the same goals in the same proportion, nor is equally willing or capable to implement and maintain sophisticated infrastructure and dedicated institutions. Based on literature on cultural theory and national cultures, we hypothesized that acknowledging socio-economic and cultural differences would allow to better appreciate the rationale of current flood risk management policies and practices in different parts of the world. By analysing cases related to Deltares projects abroad, we explored whether these factors explain the main differences observed. Based on this preliminary exploration, we propose a shortlist of factors to consider when designing future flood risk management strategies tailored to local socio-economic and cultural contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100084
Number of pages9
JournalWater Security
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cultural theory
  • Development funding
  • Flood risk management
  • Planning


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