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Flood management at the basin level in France: equity and acceptability of rural-urban risk–sharing policies

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Katrin Erdlenbruch, Frédéric Grelot, Geoffroy Enjolras, Robert Kast, Sophie Thoyer
Enjolras Geoofroy (PhD student, Lameta) Erdlenbruch Katrin (UMR G-EAU, Cemagref) Grelot Frederic (UMR G- EAU, Cemagref) Kast Robert (CNRS, Lameta) Thoyer Sophie (Supagro, Lameta)

Keyword(s): Flood risk, over-flooding, agricultural areas, acceptability, equity, compensation, France
AbstractIn this paper, we study the implementation of a new flood management option in France, based on rural-urban risk sharing policies. This study is based on an exhaustive survey of the 42 French Action Program for Flood Prevention (PAPI), a nationwide flood risk program with actions implemented at local basin level. Over the last decade, there was a growing emphasis on integrated flood management at basin level, with implications on structural actions aiming at mitigating the impacts of floods. Those structural actions should ideally have no worsening impact downstream. This leads to technical solutions where some less vulnerable upstream areas, mainly rural, are flooded preferentially in order to protect vulnerable areas, mainly urban. The agricultural sector is thus concerned by those policies, and farmers may claim compensation for adapting to the increased risk exposure. The 2003 French law on risks has defined the conditions under which local authorities could organize the redistribution of risks from urban to rural areas and corresponding monetary compensations. Nevertheless, this law does not set everything, and flood management structures can design their own rules to implement this national policy. In our study, we analyse the difficulties met during the implementation phase, with a focus on how acceptable and sustainable compensation procedures can be designed. One of the main issues encountered is the definition of indemnification schemes for farmers, which can be defined at basin level or included into national insurance policies. The rules of compensation calculation are defined at the local level. Local managers also identify the contributors to the risk-sharing program, who can for example include inhabitants in local councils benefiting from a higher protection as well as private insurance. Farmers in turn will adapt their behaviour to the new risk-sharing programs; this is to be accounted for by the payment schemes. Most often, managers wish to compensate farmers for losses associated with both, restrictive covenants on their land and increased flood exposition. This implies viable funds to be available over the long run. Different technical answers exist to this problem, which we have addressed. Moreover, contributions may go to the local basin administration, to a possible compensation fund, or to insurance. Our survey shows that the notion of equity in the redistribution of risk is important to make the integrated flood management program more socially acceptable. Following existing research work, we then define criteria for equity in risk distribution programs. We show how various scenarios of flood management and compensation lead to different levels of equity, and therefore acceptability.
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