EEB and WWF comments on `European action on flood risk management` for Informal Environment Council


Courtesy of European Environmental Bureau

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and WWF recognise the opportunities offered by concerted European action on flood risk management in order to protect people and help in achieving environmentally sustainable water and land use planning. Therefore, we welcome the Dutch Presidency’s initiative to discuss flood risk management during the Informal Environment Council meeting in Maastricht on 18 July 2004. We also welcome the Commission’s Communication on the issue and urge Ministers to endorse the proposed approach and ensure that the EU action will explicitly support the achievement of the objectives of the Water Framework Directive.

Key principles for flood risk management – Full WFD integration is essential!

It is the EEB and WWF’s view that increased flood risks and flood volumes in recent years are the result - to a considerable extent - of human mismanagement of rivers, their floodplains and the overall basins. Flood volumes have increased because of a massive reduction of the natural flood retention capacity of river basins. Risks have also increased because of unsustainable human activity in floodplains. Latest research in the Netherlands1, for example, shows that 50 years of a policy based on large engineering works to protect mainly agricultural land from flooding, which excluded consideration of alternatives, has led to increased flood risks with subsequent impacts on socioeconomic development and damages to the ecosystem.

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