Wouter Vanneuville (EEA), Henk Wolters (Deltares, ETC/ICM) and Mathias Scholz (The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), ETC/ICM), under the guidance of Beate Werner and Ronan Uhel (EEA)

European Environment Agency

Published date January 26, 2016

Flood risks and environmental vulnerability — Exploring the synergies between floodplain restoration, water policies and thematic policies

  • Provides an overview of significant floods in Europe and looks at the role of floodplains in flood protection, water management and nature conservation
  • States that in Europe, up to 90% of floodplains have been lost during the past centuries or are no longer able to serve as functioning natural ecosystems providing flood risk reduction and habitats favouring a high biodiversity
  • Draws upon information published in the European flood impact database which covers floods reported between 1980 and 2010
  • Highlights the benefits of an integrated approach to flood risk management
  • Finds that between 1980 and 2010, 37 European countries registered 3,563 floods in total; the highest number of floods was reported for 2010 (321 floods), when 27 countries were affected; this number is associated with the 'Central European floods', which occurred across several Central European countries during May and June 2010
  • Maps the share of population living in floodplain areas: among those countries, Italy has the largest population living in flood-prone areas (6.7 million people, 11% of the population) whereas Hungary has the highest relative share of people living in such areas (1.8 million, 18% of the population)
  • Expects annual flood losses to increase fivefold by 2050 and up to 17 fold by 2080
  • Estimates the major share of this increase (70–90%) to be attributable to socio economic development as the economic value of the assets in floodplains increases, and the remainder (10–30%) to climate change