The impact of demographic developments on flood risk management systems in rural regions in the Alpine Arc

Clar, C., Junger, L., Nordbeck, R., & Thaler, T. (2023). The impact of demographic developments on flood risk management systems in rural regions in the Alpine Arc. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 90 e103648. 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2023.103648.

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Demographic trends across Europe indicate that many regions face sustained population decline due to aging and out-migration. Rural regions are often prone to flood hazards and have repeatedly been affected by damaging events in the past. However, we lack in-depth knowledge about how demographic trends challenge their capacities, abilities, and plans to manage flood risks. In this paper, we aim to close this gap. We employed a mixed-methods approach in the Gailtal-region in Carinthia (Austria), which combines the assessment of exposure to flood risk, social vulnerability, coping ability and adaptation capacity, as well as a discourse analysis. This comprehensive approach was designed to assess how demographic change impacts flood risk management. The findings do not support the hypothesis that population decline increases communities’ social vulnerability and reduces their coping ability and adaptation capacity. Additionally, the selected municipalities showed a strong increase in exposure. This is an example of the exposure paradox, which describes the phenomenon that settlement and population dynamics are not interconnected at all, especially in regions with a limited share of suitable land. Finally, our results show that current flood risk management and the corresponding social and political discourse mainly neglect the challenge of population decline. Overall, this study indicates that public administrations need to address the challenges of weak communities in flood risk management and consider how they might empower local authorities and citizens to adapt to future events – in full consideration of the demographic trends they have to expect.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Flood risk management; Demographic change; Perception; Policy; Adaptive capacity; Mountain
Research Programs: Population and Just Societies (POPJUS)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS) > Equity and Justice (EQU)
Depositing User: Michaela Rossini
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2023 11:30
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2023 11:30

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