How can land use planning reduce flood risk?

How can land use planning reduce flood risk?

How can land use planning reduce flood risk?

Land use planning can lead to reduced, or increased, flood risk. Risk informed land use planning plays a vital role in protecting lives, homes, and livelihoods from floods while poor, or non-existing planning means people can unwittingly be exposed to flood risk. 

What is land use planning?

According to UNISDR land use planning is the process undertaken by public authorities to identify, evaluate and decide on different options for the use of land, including consideration of long-term economic, social and environmental objectives and the implications for different communities and interest groups, and the subsequent formulation and promulgation of plans that describe the permitted or acceptable uses.

How can land use planning reduce flood risk?

Flood risk can be reduced by not locating development (homes, business, infrastructure) in areas that are at high risk of flooding, for example floodplains. This is discussed in the blogs How can the UK build flood resilience in a changing climate? and Flood risk is rising and so must our resilience to it.

Urban flooding often occurs as a result of infrastructure like drainage systems being overwhelmed by heavy and/or prolonged rains. Nature-based solutions can play an important role in combating this as ground that hasn’t been paved over will have better absorption abilities.

Parks as well as private gardens can be planned and designed to absorb and contain large amounts of water during and after heavy rainfall. Natural flood plains and wetlands will do the same.

Who can play a role in land use planning for reduced flood risk?

Different stakeholders will play different roles in land use planning.

UNDRR’s Words into action implementation guidance for land use and urban planning is a great resource aimed at some of these groups including ministries of local government, local government leaders, mayors, city managers and urban planners, as well as schools of architecture, planning and urban development.

However, civil society, grass roots organisations, community groups, and individual residents also play an important role to making urban areas flood resilient. The blog How community mapping of storm water drains is fighting evictions in Karachi’s informal settlements is a good example of community members taking action against land use plans that don’t work for them and their needs.

Looking for something else? 

You might also be interested in one of these topics: Why conduct flood mapping?, How can nature help build flood resilience?, and What is climate-smart risk informed development?

Relevant resources

This report is intended to provide guidance for the urban planning profession and those involved in city development on how to incorporate disaster ri

This note offers policy makers and practitioners an overview of the key aspects of land use planning used to manage flood risks in cities across the w

This Resource Guide for Planning, Designing and Implementing Green Infrastructure in Parks builds on the success of park and green infrastructure init

One commonly proposed method to limit flood risk is land‐use or zoning policies which regulates construction in high‐risk areas, in order to reduc