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Flood risk reduction as a social practice

Publication at Faculty of Science |


This book is a fi nal outcome of the research project supported by Czech Science Foundation. Its aim was to explore the motivations, mechanisms and effectiveness (as well as effi ciency) of decisions concerned with fl ood risk reduction in Czechia.

The project was carried out by the interdisciplinary team of J. E.

Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Charles University in Prague and University of Ostrava. The book is divided into two parts, the theoretical and methodological introduction and the empirical evidence part.

The first chapter presents the basic principles of individual and organizational decision-making, while accentuating that there has been so far little exploration of connections between these two levels in research on fl ood risk management. After then, the concept of communities is introduced as a suitable one to connect individual and organizational levels of action in participative planning frameworks.

Because decision-making processes of individuals and key stakeholders representing organizations are fundamentally depending upon complexities of their risk perceptions, the following chapter discusses some principles of risk perception research. In particular, it draws attention to a rather underresearched approach, which involves examination of spatial articulations of fl ood risk perceptions by mental (cognitive) mapping and their use in participatory planning.

The last chapter of the fi rst part of this book considers territorial and historical specifi cities of Central (and Eastern) Europe that have played an important role in formations of value orientations of societies in this part of Europe and the ways in which early postcommunist transformation was perceived by citizens of the countries involved, and that formed a context in which we decide about fl ood risk reduction options. The second part of the book gives fi rst a robust analysis of three EU public opinion surveys concerned with perceptions of environmental risks at the country level.

The chapter also discusses the role of postmaterialist value orientations in formations of these perceptions. After then, we analyse the historical development of legislation aimed at disaster recovery in Czech Lands.

We show that important changes in legislation were always connected to transformations of societal regimes and to political ideologies. The following chapter examines the role of state in economic affairs of fl ood risk reduction, namely by addressing insuffi cient shift from fi nancing recovery actions towards preventive measures, as well as a too slow transition from the sate dominance to more balanced fl ood risk management responsibilities.

The next two chapters summarise the results of interviews with mayors of small municipalities in two Czech regions and a survey on individual fl ood risk perception in two case studies. Our results indicate that there are limited capacities of mayors and municipalities for fl ood risk management and that together with territorial circumstances and personalities of mayors result in different strategies for flood risk management.

The outcomes of a questionnaire survey reveal a number of key factors which appear to infl uence the perceived severity of fl oods by individuals. Mental mapping identifi ed perceived dangerous and safe places as well as locations perceived as suitable for fl ood risk reduction measures.

These results indicate possibilities of mental mapping as a suitable technique for participatory planning purposes. The last chapter evaluates the current practice in designing fl ood crisis operation plans and the evaluation indicates that to date this practice has had the character of a formalized business rather than a participatory and content-valuable outcome orientated on the implementation of the European Floods Directive.