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Flood Risk Management Governance: National flood protection strategiesand supra-national coordination

In many countries the oversight of flood warning and flood protection is at the level of individual states, for example in Austria and Germany. By contrast, in other countries such as the Netherlands and France, it is organized at the national level, relying on a strict top-down approach. Both de-centralized and centralized approaches offer advantages and disadvantages. But often in the past, a federal (de-centralized) system of flood protection often stopped at state borders, and coordination was lacking for larger watersheds. Rivers do not respect political boundaries. On a national level, a centralized flood protection strategy or a coordinating and advisory body is needed, even if federal decision-making and implementation powers are kept by the individual statesto ensure a modern, integrated flood risk management (IFRM) approach. A national flood governance body appears to be the most suitable way to reduce risks, prepare for floods, and ensure the information flows between affected states and countries in the event of a disaster. This approach can help to ensure that there are consistent defense heights and protection addressing the same flood water levels, and avoid gaps in protection along rivers or even banks of the same river. Coordination is needed at the national as well as the international level to ensure that integrated flood risk management works as intended and brings maximum benefit to communities. A centralized national body that observes laws and respects institutions could combine its approach with a flood institution at the overarching watershed level. Some international organizations of this type already exist, such as the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine26 and the International Commission or the Protection of the Elbe River. But they cannot exist in isolation. They need to be integrated into active flood risk management and intervention. All these aspects, but in particular the relocation of levees and the creation of flood retention space, insurance schemes and education to raise risk awareness and understanding need to be better coordinated, and the coordination needs to be across watersheds.

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