EEA makes the case for green infrastructure in flood management

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The European Environment Agency has published a report setting out the case for greater use of so-called green infrastructure in flood management following an assessment that identified challenges such as a need for better cooperation and coordination between authorities if progress is to be achieved.

According to the EEA, around 20% of Europe’s cities are classified as being vulnerable to river floods. Increasing urbanisation and the impacts of climate change add to concerns. Green infrastructure is increasingly being seen as a potentially cost-effective option, particularly due to the multiple benefits that can be associated with projects.

The EEA report features assessment of case studies drawn from four river basins: the Elbe in Germany, the Rhône in France, the Scheldt in Belgium, and the Vistula in Poland. It looks in particular at the cost-efficiency of flood management measures, both green infrastructure and grey. Core green infrastructure measures considered include floodplain restoration and management, re-meandering, wetland restoration and management, and stream bed re-naturalisation. The core grey infrastructure measures in the assessment are dike building or reinforcement, and longitudinal barriers.

A need for better coordination and cooperation between authorities is highlighted as one of the main conclusions of the report. Another is that there is a need to develop a common understanding that can guide decision-makers when assessing green and grey options. The case studies provide evidence of greater benefit to cost ratios for green infrastructure compared to grey, but the report highlights too the challenges that exist for making accurate and reliable comparisons, not least at the EU level.


Green infrastructure and flood management – promoting cost-efficient flood risk reduction via green infrastructure solutions

European Environment Agency report 14/2017



  • urban water, green infrastructure