INNOVATIONS IN FLOOD RESILIENT PLANNING & BUILDING:
FROM CONCEPTS TOWARDS IMPLEMENTATION
In New Orleans, flood protection systems are threatened by the uncertain impacts that climate change will have on future catastrophic weather-induced events and by the indirect impacts of large-scale disasters. These challenges provide opportunities for innovation and transition in flood management. Flood protection requires integration (such as flood management, urban services, urban planning, transportation), adaptation as building stock ages, collaboration, and commitment to an active learning culture. Economic and financial crises provide the additional impetus for change that was is more difficult in calmer periods.
Societies across the globe successfully live with, and even on, water. Japan is a useful case-study. As the 20th century progressed, Japanese flood risk and urbanization simultaneously increased and led to changes in flood management policy. In September 1959, Hurricane Isewan flooded and area of central Japan similar to that flooded by Katrina; killing 5,000 and flooding 190,000 homes. Japan has since incorporated comprehensive flood control management in the Tsurumi River Basin included a Design Flood Discharge Distribution Plan, adjusted land-use zoning, improved risk communication, and multi-scale, centralized and decentralized systems. These are all elements that should be incorporated into flood management here in coastal Louisiana.
In Europe, 80% of the population will live in urban areas by 2020, one-third of the aging building stock will be renewed by 2030, 25 million new dwellings will be constructed in the next ten years, and, underlying all of these trends, spatial distributions generally ignore flood risk. Floods are increasing in frequency and impact, causing billions of dollars in damage annually.
The Netherlands have experimented with construction on top of levee structures and integration of canal systems in communities. Initiatives such as EU Interreg and Long-term Initiatives for Flood-risk Enivronments (LifE), foster experimentation and work toward future-proofing. Components of future-proofing include: mainstreaming interventions into urban development that pro-actively retrofit and renew, a trial-and-error, pioneering mentality, and iterative urban design addressing life-cycle consideration, preparation for catastrophic events, and innovation in architecture and technology.
Resilience will give cities the ability to adapt, learn and re-organize. In response to events, “future-proofing” cities support flexible and continuous change processes and are continuously capable of enacting amendments. This requires local technical knowledge, funding, systems thinking, political will and institutional structures, partnerships between public and private stakeholders, policymakers and scientists, long-term perspective with short term synergies and benefits, and experimentation and demonstration.