Project outcomes and beyond

Main outcome

The school program has led to the increase of awareness amongst children of the needs for climate change adaptation measures.

An overarching report for all three Belgian pilots was also written. This report, "Evaluation of the Belgian FRAMES pilots. An analysis through three perspectives" can be downloaded here.

Outcomes related to public actors

  • The main accomplishment was to engage the public actors of Denderleeuw into a participation process. This engagement was rather problematic and difficult. Time was needed to evolve the actors’ perception and passive stance into a more interestingly willing approach. The pilot project in Denderleeuw presented a new methodology to numerous actors involved in the project. The new FRM strategy that was proposed, implied a wide range of MLS measures and their implementation required approval and the input of each actor around the table. However, the project was not finalised towards the implementation because each actor gradually and individually returned to their previous approaches. This lead to the conclusion that new approaches, in order to be accepted and effectively implemented, have to take into account the aspirations and traditional methods of the local stakeholders
  • Schools in Denderleeuw were interested in working with the University of Ghent on the school program. Resulting from the interviews with the teachers, it was clear that the primary teachers considered climate change as being an important societal issue. They also argued that climate change was already present in the teacher’s curriculum but only about subjects related to climate change mitigation (CO2 reduction measures) and not climate change adaptation. They stated that they learned something about the future challenges but regardless of this honest confession, they argued a change in the primary teachers’ curriculum was not needed. Further workshops were planned in April and May of 2019. For now, the accomplishment of this part of the project is the raise of awareness but additional collaboration should be needed to activate pragmatic reaction.

Outcomes related to citizens

  • 5 community resilience workshops were delivered. The workshops in the fire brigade office and the café ’De Belleman’ were very effective with a high presence and active participation of the inhabitants. One workshop, in Okegem, did not result an active participation
  • Awareness-raising brochure ‘Water zonder overlast’, was produced and is continuously distributed (both for flood prone citizens and the wider community).
  • The preparedness manual is in progress, it is made by flood-prone citizens for newcomers to the area, in cooperation with the fire brigade.
  • The incorporation of flood risk / water issues into neighbourhood information networks could take place in the upcoming months. However, it is entirely dependent on the head of the police department’s willingness.
  • The school program has let to the raise of awareness amongst children of the needs for climate change adaptation measures. Further information sessions with teachers’ and parents were organised in June and in the first semester of the year 2019-2020.

In the video below, the lessons learnt and outcomes for all Belgian pilots are summarized:

Flood risk management strategies (FRMS)

The flood risk governance in Belgium is moderately diversified, but mainly focused on defence. The water and flood issues are responsibility of public actors (state dominant) with a tendency to centralisation (Buijs et al., 2018)

The IPCC predictions have made it clear that a considerable increase in river discharge can be expected until 2100, due to more extreme rainfall events and more river runoff. The risk of flooding will also increase due to heat stress weakening dikes. This provides proof for a relevant risk of climate change in the area.

The Flemish Region has a complex multi-level governance setting (Mees et al., 2016). Nine organisations are responsible for the sewer system infrastructures of different areas. Moreover, four different governmental actors have responsibility over watercourses. The partition is organised in function of the scale of the watercourses: one category for the navigable watercourses and three categories for the non-navigable watercourses (AF, 2019).

Next to the water management, spatial planning is managed at the the regional, provincial and municipal level. Since the establishment of the Commissie Integraal Waterbeleid in 2003, whose purpose is to organise an integral strategy amongst different entities, the water assessment has been introduced. So, since then, every new building development needs to imply an assessment of its effect on the water system. The European Floods Directive from 2007 has confirmed water managers’ understanding that working solely on protection would not suffice, but that also other types of measures (prevention and preparedness) are necessary. This gave them a formal reason to shift to Multi-Layered Water Safety (MLWS) before the main focus was on protection, spatial planning played some role (e.g. through water assessment introduced in 2003), and disaster management organizations and structures – the emergency services, hospitals and fire department - have been in place. Since 2010 not many additional measures have been implemented to reduce flood risk, only some new jerseys have been placed along the river. No further action taken by the city Ninove or Denderleeuw. Nevertheless, 2010 as a trigger point, more information was collected. In 2013, a cost-efficiency analysis was done by the Flemish Environmental Institute and the work on the Dender valley formally started in 2016. From 2016, the FRM plan for the Dender is being developed under the collaboration of the Flemish Waterways - the water manager - , the Departement Omgeving - the spatial planning department from the Flemish government and the Province of East Flanders, which also has spatial planning responsibilities. The FRM plan of the Dender focuses explicitly on the 3 Ps of the MLWS approach. The FRM plan for Dender is the first plan to use the MLS and the 3Ps approach in Belgium. FRM in Belgium is traditionally regarded exclusively as a governmental responsibility, only in the last 5 years they started to engage citizens and other private actors to take flood risk measures.

The next table shows the FRM strategies that were considered before, during and after FRAMES project.

Layers of MLS Before FRAMES During FRAMES After FRAMES
1 Flood protection FRM plan for Dender in 2016 No changes in hard infrastructure as result  of FRAMES (interview pilot manager, 2019) No changes in hard infrastructure as result  of FRAMES (interview pilot manager, 2019)
2 Spatial adaptation Spatial planning- Water assessment in 2003 and Impact assessment of any new building to the the water system since the Directive Integraal Water Beleid

FRM plan for Dender started in 2016

1. Design proposals for making a specific neighbourhood in Ninove climate-proof / flood-proof

2. Floodlabel project for 20 houses

1. Vision and action plan for Climate/flood proof neighbourhood in Ninove

2. Floodlabel project for 20 houses

3 Preparedness and response Disaster management-learning from previous floods (2010)- FRM plan for Dender started in 2016 1.Risk communication and emergency planning. Preparedness manual for citizens, resilience community workshops in collaboration with local governments, workshops in schools, meeting neighbourhood networks
4 Resilient recovery  Not the focus of this pilot Not the focus of this pilot Not the focus of this pilot

Lessons learnt

  • Many misconceptions and a "far from my turf" perspective concerning climate change prevail in the Flemish schools

Dissemination and up-scaling of pilot results

  • Promote trans-disciplinary and guest teaching in schools with the public and academic sector
  • Implement local climate change challenges and adaptation measures in the curricula of teachers

Transnational exchange

  • Protection: Not the main focus of FRAMES Belgium
  • Pro-action/prevention: Deliver input for the decision making of urgency and costs of measures for prevention/pro-action of critical infrastructure in Electricity grid (Kloosterzand), Sloegebied and Wesermarch pilots (FRR, 2017)
  • Preparedness & response: Share knowledge on emergency response (evacuation route and emergency planning) with Wesermarsch (Germany), Alblasserwaard and Zeeland (Netherlands)) pilots and on risk communication /capacity building (among authorities, businesses and citizens) with Wesermarsch, Alblasserwaard, Zeeland, KCC and Ninove (BE).
  • Recovery: Get input on flood recovery from Roskilde (Denmark)