WYN @FLOODrisk 2016 in Lyon

The FLOODrisk 2016 conference in Lyon came at a pivotal moment for Flood Risk not only in Europe but also internationally. As this meeting only happens every four years there was a lot to cover! Two Water Youth Network (WYN) members involved with the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) team were in attendance, Aashish Bhardwaj and Heather Murdock – both students in the Erasmus Mundus Flood Risk Management masters program.

Excited to be @Floodrisk2016

The main youth event at the conference was the Young Professionals Networking Event and Dinner. This was hosted by Heather and Sajni Malde from HR Wallingford. Aashish and another WYN DRR member Shristi Vaidya also supported this event. The conference took place in Lyon, France from October 18th to 20th with side events and meeting prior to and after the main program. The key topics included:
  1. Characterising the flood hazard
  2. Characterising the consequences
  3. Characterising the flood risk
  4. Risk reduction and management
  5. Decision making, policy and governance
The Young Professionals Networking event and Dinner was on the first evening of the conference. The networking event was supported by #Deltares and the head of their flood risk department Annemargreet de Leeuw gave an inspiring talk about her own career path. Overall the event was very well attended and included a flood risk game “Hazards + Measures.” Based on the design of a flood risk video game Heather and Shristi worked to create a card game which would encourage participants to interact as well as think about the importance of non structural measures and flood risk challenges in different countries. The result… quite a success!
Annemargreet de Leeuw from Deltares giving an inspiring talk about her career path

All 38 attendees at the dinner got up and talked to each other to exchange “measure cards” and one group of participants event decided to go for an out-of-the-box approach and form a consortium to pool measures in order to reduce flood risk for the Nepalese case study area which Shristi composed. Overall a great event and hopefully one on which the youth contribution to future FLOODrisk conferences can be built.
In addition to organizing this event Heather and Aashish were able to attend the full conference program and Aashish even stayed an extra day for round table meetings on early warning systems and evacuation. Some of the highlights from the plenary sessions, presentations and workshops were:
  • Discussion of the use of nature based solutions along with hard/grey infrastructure solutions for flood risk management along the New Jersey coastal by Roselle Henn from the US Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Presentation of an award winning project in the suburbs of Paris which combines public spaces with elevated roads and new housing to create a resilient neighbourhood along the Seine river – reminded us of Hafen city in Hamburg!
  • Round table meetings early warming systems touched features discussions of the challenges to bridge the science to policy gap. It was stated that the implications of research need to be clearly communication for better policy.
Additionally congratulations are due to our collaborator Sajni who won the Best Young Author Award for her paper and presentation on “Applying emulators for improved flood risk analysis”!
In the closing session Paul Samuels of HR Wallingford passed the baton onto Frans Klijn of Deltares who will cary on chairing future FLOODrisk conferences. Frans announced that FLOODrisk 2020 will take place in Budapest, Hungary – hopefully see you there!
Frans Klijn of Deltres announcing FLOODrisk 2020 in Bupadest
Finally many agreed that although this was a European conference on flood risk we need to look beyond Europe and beyond flood risk. These are global multidisciplinary challenges and none of us can do it alone. Thankfully there are now several aligned international agreements with clear goals for sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and climate change. The Sustainable Development Goals, Sendai framework and the COP 21 agreements provide a framework for cooperation to tackle the challenges facing our planet. Additionally it was quite fitting that while some of us were in Lyon discussing topics such as managing urban flood risk and promoting resilience other WYN members were busy in Quito where the new urban agenda was set at the UN Habitat III Conference.