Paul Sayers

Paul Sayers

Paul Sayers, United Kingdom

Paul Sayers is a Chartered Engineer and a Partner at SPL, a consultancy specialising in the strategic management of the water environment and its associated risks. Previously a Board Director of HR Wallingford Ltd, Paul has over twenty-five years international experience in all aspects of water management from real term flood and coastal forecasting and warning to long term climate adaptation (including providing leading contributions to the seminal Foresight Future Flooding studies in the UK and China and most recently the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, CCRA). Paul’s international experience covers Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and North America, including an on-going collaboration with WWF-China and China Ministry of Water on strategic approaches to water management. Paul is also a Senior Fellow at the University of Oxford, an Associate Advisor of WWF-UK, on the editorial board of Journal of Flood Risk Management and acts as a reviewer for many publications.

Presentation Title: Exploring social justice in UK flood risk management: Present and future

Developing a better understanding of flood risk in vulnerable communities is a prerequisite, we believe, to delivering a socially just or “fair” approach to prioritising flood risk management efforts within national policy and funding structures. Such an approach emphasizes Rawlsian principles of preferentially targeting risk reduction for the most vulnerable, and avoids a process of prioritisation based upon strict utilitarian or purely egalitarian principles. Achieving this in practice however raises two central questions. The first is geographic; what are the inherent characteristics of a community that influence its vulnerability to a flood should it occur, and where are the most vulnerable communities located and what is their current exposure to flooding. The second is systemic; how successful is current flood risk management (FRM) policy in reducing risk in the most vulnerable communities as compared to less vulnerable communities. The analysis presented seeks to understand both of these aspects and how they may change in the future in response to exogenous influences such as climate change and population; and endogenous influences such as flood management policy and its broader impacts on issues like insurance. In doing so the paper identifies those neighbourhoods at greatest flood disadvantage now and in the future – through to the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s and, secondly, assesses the degree to which current flood risk management policy can be considered successful in delivering socially just outcomes.  Based on this analysis the papers explores policy gaps and recommend policy changes to improve flood disadvantage and hence enhance flood resilience of vulnerable communities.

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