Geneva Association calls for more resources to mitigate flood damage and greater collaboration between public and private sectors

Flooding is Australia’s costliest natural hazard-related cause of disaster when both tangible and intangible losses are taken into account. A report from the Geneva Association on Flood Risk Management in Australia, highlights a number of opportunities to improve flood resilience.

IAG executive manager Natural Perils Mark Leplastrier said: “While floods can cause widespread damage to homes across large areas, they don’t affect geographic regions uniformly, so a localised approach that considers the needs of each area has its benefits.”

“However, in order to protect homes across the country we need to work together collaboratively across all levels of government and the private sector to take a holistic view of floodplain risk management. This includes more consistent data and better data sharing to ensure we have the right building codes and land planning standards in place to mitigate or reduce flood risk, as well as ensuring funding is balanced and allocated towards both mitigation and recovery.”

Maryam Golnaraghi, director Climate Change and Emerging Environmental Topics at the Geneva Association, said: “We now have a more holistic view of flood risk management successes and gaps in five mature economies around the world.”

”Australia is admirably advanced in several respects, such as including high-quality national and state guidelines, climate change adaptation efforts, a commitment to building back better and high levels of insurance penetration. However, countries need to take a forward-looking, ‘all-of-society’ approach and prioritise close stakeholder coordination.”

“For Australia this means allocating more resources to prevention and mitigation measures and furthering collaborative efforts among all levels of government, insurers and flood-affected communities to reduce flood risk. We hope that our findings will facilitate an in-depth dialogue among these stakeholders to align on priorities and the best path forward.”

Australia country report findings include:

  • There are many flood risk management successes in the Australian system, including high-quality national and state guidelines and frameworks for flood risk management activities, climate change adaptation efforts, and a commitment to building back better and high levels of insurance penetration.
  • Australia’s devolved approach to flood risk reduction and prevention funding and decision-making enables a local approach and prioritisation in areas such as land use planning and asset management, but this has led to a range of outcomes where some communities are more progressed than others in their floodplain risk management approaches.
  • Work is needed to minimise development in high-risk floodplains, redistribute flood risk management funding from response and recovery to mitigation, and more appropriately distribute natural hazards funding and investment given the impacts of flood vs other natural hazards.