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Shaping flood risk management and resilience strategies, nationally and globally


Globally, flooding impacts over 300 million people each year, with that number set to at least double by 2050. Hull and the Humber is the most flood-prone UK region after London, facing risks from fluvial, coastal and surface water flooding.

Our research shapes UK flood resilience by impacting the Pitt Review, subsequent acts of parliament and the Environment Agency’s Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England

The summer 2007 floods across the UK had significant environmental and societal impacts. The city of Hull alone saw over 8,600 houses and 1,300 businesses flooded, the closure of schools and cancellation of many events. The Hull floods developed quickly and there was a perception that the physical, institutional and regulatory structures designed to prevent flooding in the city had comprehensively failed. Research was needed to examine these issues and address these systematic failings.


Lead researchers

Prof Tom Coulthard Prof Greg Bankoff Prof Lynne Frostick Prof Graham Haughton

Project funded by

UKRI_EPSR_Council-Logo_Horiz-RGB Hull-City-Council-bw UKRI_NER_Council-Logo_Horiz-RGB

Project partners

Hull City Council

Yorkshire Water


Rockefeller Foundation

Living with Water

The research, led by the University of Hull, combined the insights of physical and human geographers to establish what went wrong and to propose how water management strategies and structures could be strengthened for future flooding events.

A partnership led by the University produced two influential research reports that explained how and why the flooding happened and what might be done to improve flood resilience into the future. The research was designed to be policy-relevant and impact-driven, with key partnership working at its core. The work included representatives from the local councils, water authorities, community organisations and local industrial and commercial sectors. The collaborative research involved 30+ interviews, panel meetings, reviews of literature and reports, and field and site visits.

The interim findings (August 2007) and the final report (November 2007) were edited and led by Prof. Tom Coulthard. These reports shaped the Pitt Review and reports, which have in turn guided UK flood policy for the past decade through the Flood and Water Management Act (2010) and the Water Act (2014) - both directly informed by explicit recommendations in the Pitt Review.

The Impact

Research by the University of Hull has delivered impact on and through UK national flood management policy, and has extended the global reach of this impact through Living with Water Partnership and the development of the City Water Resilience Approach.

The research has shaped UK flood preparedness and resilience through its heavy impact on the influential Pitt Review and subsequent acts of parliament adopted into the Environment Agency’s 2011 and 2020 Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategies for England.

The Flood and Water Management Act (2010), which was driven by the outcomes of the Pitt Review, gave the Environment Agency overall responsibility for all flooding (including surface water flooding) which has significantly improved the approach to flood risk management at the national scale.

The impact from the research is also now being translated into international flood and resilience strategies through the development of the City Water Resilience Approach (CWRA), as part of Arup, Resilience Shift, the OECD and the Rockefeller Foundation’s global Resilient Cities programme. This has been developed over the recent past and is now being shared with city administrations globally. The water governance partnership and network and the associated knowledge generated through the underpinning research is now being translated into shaping international flood and resilience strategies through incorporation into the development of the CWRA. The underpinning research was vital in Kingston-Upon-Hull being selected as a founding city within the programme.

Next steps

Our ambitions in this area have continued to grow through formation of the £3.4M Flood Innovation Centre, the launch of a new Post-Graduate Masters programme in Flood Risk Management. The University of Hull, along with partners Humberside Fire and Rescue also have ambitions to establish ARK – a National Flood Resilience Centre.

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