Go with the flow – adaptive management for urban flood risk

The future is uncertain. It’s hard to know exactly how our climate will change. That means there is also deep uncertainty around its impacts on flooding, the most prevalent disaster worldwide.

Floods account for 43% of all recorded disaster events in the past 20 years. Will climate change exacerbate flooding events? How much will sea level rise? How extreme will rainfall be? What we do know is that the best way to cope with uncertainty is flexibility. 

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Flood warning: urgent action needed on three continents

Floods in urban areas are a growing risk in many countries of the developing world. This column explains how integrated actions to adapt to flooding are urgently needed in most cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America – particularly to help deprived people living in areas of inadequate housing. We must comprehend the links between geophysical processes, human drivers, and human victims at multiple scales. We must also respond at all levels – from individual households to national governments, as well as international river basin management.

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