This book examines system robustness as a new perspective on flood and drought risk management. The concept of robustness is familiar from other areas, such as engineering and biology. When a system is robust, it can remain functioning even when some components fail. Areas prone to flooding or drought can be understood as systems, and this book makes the concept of robustness operational by proposing quantifiable criteria. These criteria were tested in two case studies of flooding and two of drought, which demonstrate the applicability of the framework and provide insight into the system characteristics that influence system robustness.
The book will contribute to decision-making in flood and drought risk management by providing additional decision criteria, and will be of interest to all those whose work involves the management of disastrous and uncertain flood and drought events. Floods and droughts cause increasingly large impacts on societies worldwide.
The probability of these extreme events is also expected to increase due to climate change. Water management primarily tries to protect against floods and droughts, for example by building flood protection infrastructure and reservoirs. Therefore, over the past decades, water management has shifted to a risk-based approach. This means that policies do not only aim at reducing the probability of occurrence of floods and droughts, but also include actions to limit the consequences of potential flooding or water shortage.
Learning about climate change uncertainty enables flexible water infrastructure planning
Both types of measures may aid to reduce flood and drought risk to an acceptable level. Even if the risk is reduced to an acceptable level, extremely large impacts are not avoided, as demonstrated by recent floods and droughts events with devastating impact. A risk approach considers ten casualties per year in years equal to casualties at once during the same period. However, the latter have a much larger societal impact.
Large impacts occurring at once are considered unacceptable when it is difficult to recover from them. Hence, not only the risk but also the potential impacts should be reduced to an acceptable level. There is a need for decision support methods that help avoiding unacceptably large impacts from floods and droughts. Another reason why risk may not suffice as decision-criterion is that it is uncertain, under both current and future conditions. Estimating current risk requires assumptions on return periods of events that do not occur in measured data.
Furthermore, it is uncertain how risks develop into the future, because of uncertain future climate and climate variability and socio-economic developments. It is therefore difficult to decide on the most cost-effective strategy in terms of the effect on risk. This further underpins the need for additional decision criteria that take uncertainty into account. The concept of robustness seems useful for dealing with extreme events. Robustness is known from other areas such as engineering and biology, where networks or systems have to maintain their functionality even when some components fail.
Areas prone to floods or droughts can be understood as systems. When these systems can remain functioning during flood and drought events, it is likely that unmanageable impacts i. In this thesis, the concept of robustness is made operational by proposing quantifiable criteria. These criteria were tested in two flood cases and two drought cases.
The overall goal of the proposed framework is to gain insight into how these coupled human and hydrologic systems might co-evolve under alternative climatic, socio-economic and regulatory futures that are uncertain the Drivers. The Responses should be sustainable in economic, social and environmental terms, and robust and resilient under uncertain futures.
Agents therefore represent the different stakeholders in the decision-making process, and the Stakeholder Platform Fig. As a consequence, stakeholders can appreciate how their preferences and views can affect other stakeholders economically and socially, leading to compromise. They are supported by a Virtual Decision Support Theatre which can depict virtual rural e. Donaldson-Selby et al. Responses emerge from the Stakeholder Platform with support from technical experts, as represented by the two-way interaction in Fig. These are then evaluated though an Integrated Assessment IA process eg Rotmans and Van Asselt , the outcomes of which are fed back to the Human System and specifically the Stakeholder Platform, with iteration eventually leading to the preferred Responses to be implemented that satisfy the IA criteria.
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