Adaptive risk management solutions in coastal cities through the PEARL Project

Since 2014, APFM has worked with 23 partners from the academia, private sector and international organizations on the Preparing for Extreme and Rare Events in Coastal Regions (PEARL) Project. Funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration, the PEARL Project has been developing adaptive risk management strategies for coastal communities, focusing on extreme hydrometeorological events. The approach taken was multidisciplinary and integrated social, environmental and technical research and innovation.

To mark the culmination of the project, PEARL hosted a series of events at Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW) from 30 October to 1 November 2017. The PEARL Consortium showcased the monitoring, modelling, forecasting and warning technologies, which were tailored to the social, technical, institutional, organizational and economic realities of selected coastal communities in Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. The events included a day-long side event on “Responding to the risks of extreme events to advance climate change adaptation,” a case session on “Resilient Regions and Climate Change Adaptation,” and an interactive lunch session on “Roadmaps towards climate change adaptation.”

Partners delved into the social, hazard modelling and risk assessment innovations underpinning the PEARL framework, which were later brought to life in discussions on how these were tailored to the project’s different case studies. In the historic city of Ayutthaya, Thailand, for example, it was important to account for the cultural dimension in addition to physical, social and economic dimensions when calculating vulnerability. In Greve, Denmark and St. Lucia, the project demonstrated how fit-for-purpose models and systems could be implemented despite varying levels of data availability. In Rethymno, Greece and Genoa, Italy, there was great value in engaging and co-producing risk assessments with local authorities and organizations through Learning and Action Alliances. In Hamburg, Germany, it was more effective to liaise closely with selected authorities, who would take ownership of the products developed after the project ends.

Innovative products developed throughout the course of the project were also shared during the events. One such product is the PEARL Knowledge Base, which was developed to equip authorities in Rethymno, Greece with appropriate tools but can also be used elsewhere in the world. This online tool allows users to calculate a city’s flood resilience, identify appropriate resilience measures, find examples of where such measures have been applied, and learn more by accessing relevant publications. Another tool developed by PEARL, which can be used in other contexts, is the Water Detective Android smartphone application for crowdsourcing reports on water-related issues.

The events also provided a platform for the voices of the project’s stakeholders to be heard. It was an opportune time to hear from stakeholders in St. Maarten, which is still recovering from the devastation brought by Hurricane Irma. One of the products developed by the PEARL Project in St. Maarten is an infrastructure analysis, which will be useful in the effort to rebuild. Calling for continued collaboration with the project partners, disaster manager Paul Martins said, “The PEARL perspective will help us to build back St. Maarten better.”

“We and the Amur Floods: Lessons (Un)Learned?” wins bronze medal at Far-Eastern Book Fair 2017

The book We and the Amur Floods: Lessons (Un)Learned? was awarded the bronze medal at the Far-Eastern Book Fair-2017 in the nomination “Scientific Monograph.” The book explores viable options for integrated flood management jointly implemented by Russia and China, following the great flood that took place along the transboundary Amur River in the summer and autumn of 2013. The research and fieldwork on the Amur River and the assessment of its floodplains undertaken from 2013–2015 was supported by APFM Support Base Partner Rivers without Boundaries (RwB) as well as Whitley Fund for Nature, DIPA, the Amur Branch of WWF-Russia, Global Green Grants Fund and others. Report preparation was made possible by the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, and enhanced by RwB’s participation in the second workshop on transboundary floods management, supported by the UNECE and APFM.

The award was a pleasant surprise for the authors, who were not aware that the book had been submitted to the competition until they won the prize. “Over 300 titles were assessed by the Jury.
This is very unusual that a publication done by NGOs wins in competition with production of commercial and scientific publishing houses,” said Eugene Simonov, co-auther and RwB coordinator.

“I always expected we have published a good book, now it is certified. This unexpected recognition encourages us to explore ways to republish for wider dissemination and to finalize the English version for sharing the experience with other countries,” Simonov added.

To access the book in Russian and a summary written in English, click here. Congratulations to the book’s authors!

Eugene Simonov, Rivers without Boundaries Coordinator and one of the book’s authors

2017 Advisory and Management Committee Meetings

The Associated Programme on Flood Management Advisory and Management Committees held their annual meeting at the World Meteorological Organization Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, from 4 to 5 September 2017 to look back on the past year’s achievements and to strategize for the way forward.

To view the annual report, please click on the link below:

APFM Support Base Partner Deltares presents IFM Guidance Document at ICFM7

Selecting Measures and Designing Strategies for Integrated Flood Management: A Guidance Document was presented by APFM Support Base Partner Deltares at the 7th International Conference on Flood Management, which took place in Leeds, United Kingdom from 5-7 September 2017. Herman van der Most, who co-authored the publication, presented the Guidance Document at a poster session on policy and governance for resilience.

ICFM7 was aimed at examining the issues and challenges affecting flood management, especially the need to build resilience into future planning. Other themes explored during the conference were engineering for resilience, impact of climate change and urbanization, and flood prediction and forecasting.

View the poster: Design of Strategies for Integrated Flood Management to guide implementation in policy and practice

Seeking Synergies for Mainstreaming Gender in Flood Management

APFM participated in two gender-focused events over the past few months to find synergies with potential partners for the Training Manual for Mainstreaming Gender in Flood Management, which is currently under development.

APFM attended the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria from 23 to 28 April 2017 to participate in a special session on Hydrological risk under a gender and age perspective. The APFM presentation highlighted the World Meteorological Organization’s efforts in gender mainstreaming in geosciences, with a special focus on integrated flood management. Through this event, APFM found opportunities for testing and linking with possible beneficiaries for the training manual.

On 19 June 2017, APFM participated in a workshop held by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) in Stockholm, Sweden focusing on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion in Water Resources Management. GWP shared findings from its scoping study on the Gender-Water-Development Nexus and led dynamic discussions on identifying gaps and opportunities, lessons learned, getting started, monitoring and evaluation, the importance of sex-disaggregated data, and taking action. The workshop was a good opportunity for networking with potential donors, civil society members, academics and river basin representatives.

APFM is actively seeking funding opportunities for the development of the training manual. Please get in touch with us if you are interested in collaborating with APFM on this effort!


New Resource on Harnessing Nature to Manage Rising Flood Risk

APFM Support Base Partner World Wildlife Fund has released Natural and Nature-Based Flood Management: A Green Guide (Flood Green Guide)introducing an integrated framework for flood management, and drawing on policy, green infrastructure and conventional engineering to help communities adapt and better manage growing flood risk. The Flood Green Guide is an open-source resource supported by training and a resource library, and drew from the APFM IFM Tools during its development. APFM is working with WWF on developing a training curriculum based on the Flood Green Guide, specifically designed for those responsible for flood risk management, including municipal governments, community groups and non-governmental organizations worldwide.

“We can’t afford to continue to invest in short term solutions that don’t take into account how weather patterns, sea levels and land use are changing the nature and severity of flooding,” said Anita van Breda, World Wildlife Fund’s senior director of environment and disaster. “We need to design and develop systems that can adapt to changing circumstances while also keeping our communities, infrastructure, and environment safe. The most durable flood management strategies are locally specific and factor in what’s happening in the watershed, both upstream and downstream of individual projects.”

The Flood Green Guide, developed in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development Office of U.S.  Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), provides a step-by-step framework for flood managers to understand the factors contributing to flood risk in their region, and to pull together the appropriate policies, nature based solutions, and traditional engineering to address the problem.

The guide promotes using non-structural methods such as land use zoning as first step, and then integration of natural and nature-based methods, combined with hard engineering if needed, to manage flood risk. Natural and nature-based methods, like upstream reforestation, green roofs on downstream urban areas and wetland restorations and management can improve the function of – and reduce overall costs associated with – conventional engineering. They also allow communities to reap the co-benefits the environment can provide such as: cleaner water, reduced air temperatures and green space for human recreation while protecting livelihoods such as agriculture and fishing.

”Floods do not recognize national or administrative boundaries,” said Sezin Tokar, Senior Hydrometeorological Hazard Advisor for USAID/OFDA.  “Any action in one part of the watershed will affect everyone else living in the watershed.  That’s why an integrated and basin-wide approach is critical to save lives and protect the property of people living near the water.”

For more information about the guide or to view the resource library, visit:

Apply Now: Global Competition for Youth-Led Projects on Flood and Droughts

Calling all youth leading flood and drought management projects! Applications are currently being accepted for the Global Competition for Youth-Led Projects on Flood and Droughts, organized by the Water Youth Network in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization/Global Water Partnership flood and drought management programmes: Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) and Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP). This competition is designed to showcase practical examples and cases on how an integrated approach to flood and drought risk management has been advanced in practice by or through the involvement of youth under the following three themes:

  1. Understanding risk: Participatory data collection (hazard, exposure, vulnerability), risk modelling tools, assessment and mapping and risk communication
  2. Early Warning System development: Impact based forecasting, needs assessment, warning communication (technologies), response, and warning evaluation
  3. Risk management and planning: Identifying, evaluating and implementing mitigation, preparedness, recovery and response measures at the local level

Applications fall under two categories (organisations may submit applications for both categories):

  • Category 1: Ongoing youth projects
    Could be research, volunteering or case studies where young people are acting as social innovators and communicators to bridge the gaps between science and action to make flood and drought risk management more integrated and effective at the local level. The winner will receive an opportunity for collaboration with APFM and IDMP, with direct support of up to 1,000 EUR + a trip to present the project at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction Conference in Cancun, Mexico on 22-26 May 2017
  • Category 2: New youth project
    Includes innovative projects and projects developed on existing knowledge that engage youth to support integrated flood and drought risk management at the local level. The winner will receive an opportunity for collaboration with APFM and IDMP, with direct support of up to 3,000 EUR + a trip to present the project at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction Conference in Cancun, Mexico on 22-26 May 2017

The winning projects will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Should be youth-led activities/project and include youth participation across all aspects of the project. The project team members should be less than 35 years.
  • Relevance to the theme of integrated flood and drought risk management
  • Should address social needs at the local level
  • Innovative approaches and solutions to problems
  • Consideration of local partnerships and multi-stakeholder integration
  • Financial feasibility
  • Sustainable with possibility to upscale and replicate

The deadline for submission is 31 March 2017. Results will be announced on 26 April 2017.

For more information, download the flyer and concept note.

To download the application form, click on the links below: