5th International Conference on Flood Management (ICFM5)
27-29 September 2011, Tokyo-Japan

                       Floods: From Risk to Opportunity 

ICFM5: Statement Annex 1

ICFM5 Plenary and Special Session Outcomes

The two plenary and 34 special and parallel technical sessions focused on several flood management themes, including risk management, emergency response, early warning, climatic regimes and cross‐cutting themes. Related discussions took place on how communities, nations and regions can, based on scientific knowledge, reduce levels of flood‐related disasters and create resilient societies that are adaptive to global changes and future uncertainties.

Plenary Session 1:Flood Forecasting and Early Warning Systems 

UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board (UNSGAB)’s High-Level Expert Panel in the “Water and Disaster” identified flood early warning as an essential element that supports the Hyogo Framework for Action. Many international efforts are focusing on assisting nations and regions in dealing with challenges of water related disasters. The International Flood Initiative jointly proposed by UNESCO and WMO and supported by ISDR, UNU, IAHS and IAHR; the Associated Program on Flood Management and other similar initiatives, in their own way are implementing follow up on the actions identified therein. The session provided a brief overview of some of the present mechanisms being used for transferring the existing technologies in flood forecasting and early warning to the developing countries and discussed the advancements in the flood forecasting and early warning technologies and the gaps that need to be addressed through research.


Plenary Session 2:Floods, Landslide and Debris Flow due to Torrential Downpours 

The objective of this plenary session was to explore the new features of such calamities in context of the global climate change and socioeconomic development, and how to strengthen the capacity building in a comprehensive way to restrain the growth of the risk effectively. The key points that were discussed in the session include:

E          Disaster chain of torrential downpours, floods, landslide and debris flow and their risk features;

E          Predictability of the outburst floods, landslide and debris flow and the effectiveness of countermeasures

E          Appropriate coping strategies for nations or regions with different social economic development level.

E          The session highlighted the main issues to be addressed and then to look at the measures that can be taken to mitigate the risk.


Special Session 1:Flood Risk Management Approaches as Being Practiced in Japan, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States 

The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), the Dutch Rijkswaterstaat, the United Kingdom Environment Agency, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers agreed to develop a document to explore risk-informed approaches as being practiced and developed primarily in those four countries.

These include adapting to new understandings of risk that take into account the impacts of climate change, bridging gaps between land-use decisions and flood risk management considerations, effectively communicating risk to the general public in a way that promotes individual as well as societal responsibility, and aligning planning and actions to identify and meet the most critical risks within a framework that is socially, environmentally, economically, and politically acceptable.

This special session provided an overview of the four countries’ collaboration and their resulting jointly-prepared document. Presentations by each country highlighted example approaches, the drivers for those approaches, and practices that are working or hold particular promise.  


Special Session 2:Practical Steps for Adapting to Climate Change 

UNSGAB Action 29 (Report: Water and Disasters: High Level Expert Panel on Water and Disasters/UNSGAB, March 2009) reads as follows:

“National and international hydrological institutes must take the initiative to identify underlying analytical  and data requirements to meet climate changes that are likely to be highly uncertain and so as to support structural and non-structural measures for disaster risk deduction.”

Major practicing hydrologic research institutions worldwide should form a consortium to develop a new family of practical hydrologic engineering tools, methods, procedures and professional standards for the planning, design, operation and maintenance of infrastructure under non-stationary climate trends and climate change uncertainty. The consortium would assess existing, and generate new ‘best management practices’ under climate uncertainty, that could be used by water managers and specialists throughout the developed and developing countries that would guide them through the transitional period of improved GCM development. International aid agencies such as the World Bank, USAID, FAO and UNDP, would be engaged, as they would also benefit from these new procedures.


Special Session 3:Associated Programme on Flood Management 10th Year Anniversary 

Established jointly by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Global Water Partnership (GWP) in 2001, the Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) is the world’s premier comprehensive knowledge base for the development and implementation of best practices in Integrated Flood Management (IFM), worldwide.

Case studies, demonstration projects, and a considerable number of technical tool publications are the main elements that form the growing knowledge base of the APFM since its inception. The IFM HelpDesk is the main access gate to this knowledge base that has been accumulated to facilitate finding pragmatic solutions bridging the gap between international policy consensus and management challenges.

In occasion of ICFM5, the APFM Team and its partners presented its achievements and lessons learnt over the past decade and to express its continued dedication to promote the IFM concept.  


Special Session 4:Education and Capacity Building in Flood Management 

This session discussed (i) challenges for education with particular emphasis on integrated flood management. (ii) Competency profiles for flood experts of the future. And finally, (iii) different ways to improve the education of flood experts. This includes revisiting the university curricula, CPD programmes, applied teaching and learning methods, and joint educational activities in knowledge partnerships.

The participants recognize the huge need to enhance and education related to the field of Integrated Flood Management. Furthermore, the education needs to be revised to train effective experts in IFM with a strong interdisciplinary background. Systems thinking, that considers the different components of the system in relation to each other and tries to understand the whole systems in a holistic way, is pivotal to improve IFM and has to be introduced to students and practitioners. The importance of live long learning in an IFM context is essential.


Special Session 5:Building Flood Resilient Communities 

Building community resilience to flood risk, which promote an integrated flood risk management approach that incorporates both hard and soft measures with active participation of community, is the way forward. Building flood resilient communities will become an essential adaptation measure to cope with flood risk increases brought about by climate change. This necessitates the need to incorporate ‘flood resilient communities’ as a specific target in development programmes.  This session discussed the following themes:

E          Capacity building at different institutional levels to enhance community based flood management

E          Flood risk reduction projects that contribute to community development and vice versa

E          Interventions and strategies that enhance community flood resilience


Special Session 6:Advances and New Directions in Hydraulics of Flood Modeling 

During this special session four invited presentations introduced a variety of topics such as automated two-dimensional dam-break modeling, operational flood modeling using game programming, bank stability and sediment transport issues during floods, the use of observations in flood modeling, and urban flood modeling. The panel discussion following the presentations discussed recent advances and new directions in hydraulics of flood modeling.


Special Session 7:Flood Risk Management tools and their application 

This special session was about Flood Risk Management (FRM) tools and their applications, with a focus on showing how FRM tools can be used to assist decision makers and practitioners involved in flood risk management. Several international projects are presented in which FRM tools have been developed and successfully applied for flood mapping, risk mapping, calculation of failure probabilities of flood defenses, risk assessment, etc.


Special Session 8:Flood resilience: Interdisciplinary approaches emerging from recent European research projects 

This session shared and demonstrated the research output of five leading EU projects, in a comprehensive way, to a wider scientific audience. Also another major objective of this session was to bridge different aspects of floods resilience (economic, social, communication, vulnerability) and to open the dialogue for establishing an integrated flood risk assessment approach. The primary ambition of this session was to deliver a step change in flood risk management communities’ ability to exploit capacities as a way of enhancing resilience.