Urban Flood Risk, Interventions, and The Role Of City Planning.

Neil Whittingham


This paper is a reflection upon the issue of urban flooding, attempts to adapt to it and strategic risk reduction measures of those with responsibility for planning at the level of the city region. Following the introduction, flooding hazards are considered within the context of global environmental processes and rapid urbanisation, and the paper has a discussion of both theoretical and policy perspectives to urban flood risk and vulnerability. Consideration is then given to a broad range of potential interventions that could be available to stakeholders, before, during or after a flooding event, whether the measure would be undertaken by a government, member(s) of the community or the private sector. Finally, in the context of international policy guidance, consideration is given to the role that city planners could make in addressing the risk of flooding emergencies through more strategic, medium and long-term approaches. The paper concludes that collaborative forms of governance with the full engagement of the community are essential for disaster risk resilience


Urban flood risk, vulnerability, resilience, adaptation, disaster risk reduction, planning, public participation, collaborative approaches.

Full Text:



BBC UN: World facing greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945 [Online] BBC, 11th March 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-39238808; 2017

Quarantelli, E.L. Introduction: The basic question, its importance, and how it is addressed in this volume. In Quarantelli, E.L. (ed) What is a disaster: Perspectives on the question, Abingdon: Routledge; 1998

Dombrowsky, W.R. Again and Again: Is a disaster what we call a “disaster”? in Quarantelli, E.L. (ed) What is a disaster: Perspectives on the question, Abingdon: Routledge; 1998

Beck, U. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, London: Sage; 1992

Beck, U. World at Risk, Cambridge, Polity Press; 2009

UNISDR. Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 [Online] Retrieved from: http://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/publications/43291; 2017

Wisner, B., Blaikie, P., Cannon, T. and Davis, I. At Risk: Natural Hazards, people’s vulnerability and disasters, 2nd edn., Abingdon: Routledge; 2004

Disaster History.org [Online]. Retrieved from:

http://www.disasterhistory.org/central-china-flood-1931; 2017

WHP, China Flood of 1931 [Online] Retrieved from:

https://worldhistoryproject.org/1931/8/18/china-flood-of-1931; 2017

Dinwiddie, R., Lamb, S. and Reynolds, R. Violent Earth, London: Dorling Kindersley. 2011

BBC. Floods and mudslides kill dozens in Peru [Online] BBC, 18th March 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-39318034; 2017

Reuters. Peru seeks more international aid to cope with extreme floods [Online], 1st April 2017. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-peru-floods-idUSKBN17335F; 2017a

BBC. Colombia landslide: Dozens of children among the dead [Online] BBC, 3rd April 2017. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-39470238; 2017c

Reuters. Rescuers, locals dig for Colombia flood victims, at least 210 dead [Online], Retrieved from: http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-colombia-landslide-idUKKBN1740NW; 2017b

Stern, N. The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2006

Adams, W.M. Green Development: Environment and sustainability in a developing world, Abingdon: Routledge; 2009

Giddens, A. The Politics of Climate Change, Cambridge: Polity Press; 2009

Houghton, J. Global Warming: The Complete Briefing, 4th edn., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2009

Dessler, A.E. Introduction to Modern Climate Change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2012

Clark, P. Arctic Melt is ‘economic time bomb’. Financial Times; 2013

Middleton, N. The Global Casino: An Introduction to Environmental Issues, 5th edn., London: Routledge; 2013

Dow, K. and Downing, T.E. The Atlas of Climate Change: Mapping the World’s Greatest Challenge, Brighton: Earthscan; 2011

Black, M. and King, J. The Atlas of Water: Mapping the World’s Most Critical Resource, Brighton: Earthscan; 2009

Pelling, M. and Wisner, B. Introduction: Urbanization, Human Security and Disaster Risk in Africa in Pelling, M. and Wisner, B. (eds) Disaster Risk Reduction: Cases from Urban Africa. London: Earthscan; 2009

Halnaes, K. and Veje Laursen, N. Climate Change Vulnerability: A New Threat to Poverty Alleviation in Developing Countries In Davoudi, S., Crawford, J. and Mehmood, A. (eds) Planning for Climate Change: Strategies for Mitigation and Adaptation for Spatial Planners, London: Earthscan, pp. 83-93; 2009

Munslow, B. and O’Dempsey, T. Globalisation and Climate Change in Asia: the urban health impact. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 8, 2010, pp.1339-1356; 2010

UN. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013 [Online] Available from: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/publications/mdgs-report-2013.html; 2013a

Satterthwaite, D., Huq, S., Reid, H., Pelling, M. and Romero Lankao, P. Adapting to Climate Change in Urban Areas: The Possibiliities and Constraints in Low- and Middle-Income Nations In Bicknell, J., Dodman, D. and Satterthwaite, D. (eds) Adapting Cities to Climate Change: Understanding And Addressing the Development Challenges, London: Earthscan, pp.3-47; 2009

UN. Millennium Development Goal No. 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability [Online] Available from: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/environ.shtml; 2013b

Alexander, D. Confronting Catastrophe, Harpenden: Terra Publishing; 2000

Wamsler, C. Cities, disaster risk and adaptation, London: Routledge; 2014

McLaughlin, P. and Dietz, T. Structure, agency and environment: Toward an integrated perspective on vulnerability, Global Environmental Change, 18, 99-111; 2008

O’Donovan, D. The Atlas of Health: Mapping the Challenges and Causes of Disease, Brighton: Earthscan; 2008

Pelling, M. Adaptation to Climate Change: From resilience to transformation, Abingdon: Routledge; 2011

Pelling, M. The political ecology of flood hazard in urban Guyana, Geoforum, 30, 249-261; 1999

IPCC. Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2012

O’Brien, G. and O’Keefe, P. Managing Adaptation to Climate Risk: Beyond Framented Responses, Abingdon: Routledge; 2014

Ensor, J.E., Park, S.E., Hoddy, E.T. and Ratner, B.D. A rights-based perspective on adaptive capacity, Global Environmental Change 31, p.38-49; 2015

Wamsler, C. and Blink, E. Adaptive Capacity In Inderberg, T.H., Eriksen, S., O’Brien, K. and Sygna, L. (eds) Climate Change Adaptation and Development: Transforming Paradigms and Practices, Abingdon: Routledge. 2015

Twigg, J. Disaster Risk Reduction, Mitigation and Preparedness in Development and Emergency Programming, Good Practice Review, No.9, March 2004, London: Humanitarian Practice Network, Overseas Development Institute; 2004

Moench, M. Adapting to Climate Change and the Risks Associated with Other Natural Hazards: Methods for Moving from Concepts to Action. In Schipper, E.L.F. and Burton, I. (eds.) Adaptation to Climate Change, London: Earthscan, pp. 249-280; 2009

Schipper, E.L.F. and Burton, I. Understanding Adaptation: Origins, Concepts, Practice and Policy. In Schipper, E.L.F. and Burton, I. (eds.) Adaptation to Climate Change, London: Earthscan, pp. 1-8; 2009

Campbell, S. Planning: Green Cities, Growing Cities, Just Cities? Urban planning and Contradictions of Sustainable Development. in Satterthwaite, D. (ed) Sustainable Cities, London: Earthscan, pp.251-273; 1999

Burton, I. Climate Change and the Adaptation Deficit in Schipper, E.L.F. and Burton, I. (eds) The Earthscan Reader on Adaptation to Climate Change, London: Earthscan, pp 89-95; 2009

Howard, J. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Developed Nations: A Critical Perspective on the Adaptation Turn in Urban Climate Planning. In Davoudi, S., Crawford, J. and Mehmood, A. (eds) Planning for Climate Change: Strategies for Mitigation and Adaptation for Spatial Planners, London: Earthscan; 2009

Pizarro, R. Urban Form and Climate Change: Towards Appropriate Development Patterns to Mitigate and Adapt to Global Warming in Davoudi, S., Crawford, J. and Mehmood, A. (eds) Planning for Climate Change: Strategies for Mitigation and Adaptation for Spatial Planners, London: Earthscan, pp33-45; 2009

Morvaridi, B. Social Justice and Development, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan; 2008

Pieterse, E. City Futures: Confronting the Crisis of Urban Development, London: Zed books; 2008

Potts, D. Project Planning and Analysis for Development, London: Lynne Rienner; 2002

Gardiner, P.D. Project Management: A Strategic Planning Approach, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan; 2005

UN. United Nations Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience [Online]. Available at:

http://www.preventionweb.net/files/33703_actionplanweb14.06cs1.pdf; 2013c

HM Cabinet Office. Local resilience forums [Online]. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-resilience-forums-contact-details; 2013

Rockefeller Foundation. 100 Resilient Cities [Online] Available at: http://www.100resilientcities.org/about-us#/-_/ ; 2017

Escobar, A. Planning in Sachs, W. (ed) The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power, London: Zed; 2010

Cleaver, F. Institutions, Agency and the Limitations of Participatory Approaches to Development in Cooke, B. and Kothari, U. (eds) Participation: The New Tyranny?, London: Zed Books, pp. 36-55; 2001

Howell, J. and Pearce, J. Civil Society and Development: A Critical Exploration, London: Lynne Rienner; 2001

King, G., Keohane, R.O. and Verba, S. Designing Social Inquiry: Social Inference in Qualitative Research, Chichester: Princeton University Press; 1994

Laws, S., Harper, C. and Marcus, R. Research for Development: A Practical Guide, London: Sage; 2003

Denscombe, M. The Good Research Guide for small-scale research projects, Maidenhead: Open University Press; 2007

Bryman, A. Social Research Methods, 4th edn., Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2012

Freire, P. Education for Critical Consciousness, London: Bloomsbury; 1974

Sullivan, H. and Skelcher, C. Working Across Boundaries: Collaboration in Public Services, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. 2002

Rondinelli, D.A. and Heffron, J.M. Globalisation, Leadership and Development: Emerging Patterns and Challenges, Sterling, VA: Kumarian Press; 2009

Davoudi, S., Crawford, J. and Mehmood, A. Climate Change and Spatial Planning Responses in Davoudi, S., Crawford, J. and Mehmood, A. (eds) Planning for Climate Change: Strategies for Mitigation and Adaptation for Spatial Planners, London: Earthscan, pp. 7-18; 2009

Dale, R. Development Planning: Concepts and Tools for Planners, Managers and Facilitators, London: Zed; 2004

UN. Sustainable Development Goal 11 [Online] Available at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg11; 2017

DOI: https://doi.org/10.24853/ijbesr.1.01.9-16


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 International Journal of Built Environment and Scientific Research

Indexed on:

 Garba Rujukan Digital(Garuda)

Powered by Puskom-UMJ