Water Resources Management

, Volume 27, Issue 10, pp 3585–3606 | Cite as

Flood Risk Management in Flanders: Past Developments and Future Challenges

  • Wim Kellens
  • Wouter Vanneuville
  • Els Verfaillie
  • Ellen Meire
  • Pieter Deckers
  • Philippe De Maeyer


This paper presents the state of the art of flood risk management in Flanders, a low-lying region in the northern part of Belgium which is vulnerable to flooding. Possible flood hazard sources are not only the many rivers which pass through the Flemish inland, but also the North Sea, which is sensitive to the predicted sea level rise and which can affect large parts of the Flemish coastal area. Due to the expected increase in flood risks in the 21st century, the Flemish government has changed its flood management strategy from a flood control approach to a risk-based approach. Instead of focusing on protection against a certain water level, the objective now is to assure protection against the consequences of a flood, while considering its probability. In the first part, attention is given to the reasoning and functioning of the risk-based approach. Recent improvements to the approach are discussed, as well as the GIS-implementation of the entire model. The functioning of the approach is subsequently demonstrated in two case studies. The second part of the paper discusses future challenges for the flood risk management in Flanders. The driving force behind these challenges is the European Directive on the assessment and management of flood risks, which entered into force in 2007. The Flemish implementation of the directive is discussed and situated in the European landscape. Finally, attention is given to the communication of flood risks to the general public, since the “availability” of flood risk management plans is among the requirements of the EU Floods Directive.


Flood risk management GIS EU Floods Directive Risk communication 



Financial support for this work was provided by Research Foundation – Flanders.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wim Kellens
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wouter Vanneuville
    • 3
  • Els Verfaillie
    • 4
  • Ellen Meire
    • 1
  • Pieter Deckers
    • 5
  • Philippe De Maeyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Geo Solutions nvKontichBelgium
  3. 3.European Environment AgencyKøbenhavnDenmark
  4. 4.Havenbedrijf Gent aghGhentBelgium
  5. 5.Flanders Hydraulics ResearchBorgerhoutBelgium

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