The undebated issue of justice: silent discourses in Dutch flood risk management

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Kaufmann, Maria ; Priest, Sally J. ; Leroy, Pieter (2018)
  • Publisher: Springer Nature
  • Journal: Regional Environmental Change
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1007/s10113-016-1086-0
  • Subject: Global and Planetary Change

Flood risk for all types of flooding is projected to increase based on climate change projections and increases in damage potential. These challenges are likely to aggravate issues of justice in flood risk management (henceforth FRM). Based on a discursive-institutionalist perspective, this paper explores justice in Dutch FRM: how do institutions allocate the responsibilities and costs for FRM for different types of flooding? What are the underlying conceptions of justice? What are the future challenges with regard to climate change? The research revealed that a dichotomy is visible in the Dutch approach to FRM: despite an abundance of rules, regulations and resources spent, flood risk or its management, are only marginally discussed in terms of justice. Despite that the current institutional arrangement has material outcomes that treat particular groups of citizens differently, depending on the type of flooding they are prone to, area they live in (unembanked/embanked) or category of user (e.g. household, industry, farmer). The paper argues that the debate on justice will (re)emerge, since the differences in distributional outcomes are likely to become increasingly uneven as a result of increasing flood risk. The Netherlands should be prepared for this debate by generating the relevant facts and figures. An inclusive debate on the distribution of burdens of FRM could contribute to more effective and legitimate FRM.
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