International Conference on Flood Recovery, Innovation and Response

pcr2.jpg2 - 3 July 2008
London, UK


FRIAR08..jpgThe first International Conference on Flood Recovery, Innovation and Response (FRIAR/08) took place recently at the Institute of Civil Engineers in London, co-organised by the University of Wolverhampton and the Wessex Institute of Technology.

The Conference book was co-edited by Prof David Proverbs (University of Wolverhampton); Professor Carlos Brebbia (Wessex Institute of Technology); and Professor Edmund Penning-Rowsell (Middlesex University).

The Conference was endorsed by the UK based Flood Regions Network, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjustors (CILA).

Flooding is a global phenomenon that claims numerous lives worldwide each year.  In addition, many more people must endure the homelessness, disease and crop failures that are left in the wake of floods.  The increased frequency of flooding in the last few years, coupled with climate change predictions and urban development, suggests that these statistics are set to worsen in the future.  When flooding occurs in populated areas, it can cause substantial damage to property as well as threatening human life.

Apart from the physical damage to buildings, contents and loss of life, which are the most obvious impacts of floods upon households, other more indirect losses are often overlooked.  These intangible impacts are generally associated with disruption to normal life as well as longer term health issues including stress related illness.

The conference provided a forum for researchers, academics and practitioners actively involved in improving the repair, reinstatement and resilience of flood damaged property.  The meeting brought together engineers, scientists and other professionals from many countries involved in research and development activities in a wide range of technical and management topics related to flooding and its devastating effects.

The meeting was opened by Professor David Proverbs who spoke about the background of the Conference and how rewarding it was for the organisers to see that the initiative was successful.  The number and quality of the papers was exceptionally high as demonstrated by the contents of the conference book.  This will ensure that the meeting is reconvened in two years’ time.

friar1.JPGProfessor Carlos Brebbia, Director of Wessex Institute (WIT) spoke next, pointing out the importance of conferences like FRIAR for the Institute’s objectives.  WIT aims to act as a mechanism for knowledge transfer at an international level and conferences like FRIAR are important in this regard.  Professor Brebbia also mentioned that the conference book is widely distributed and the book and its contents are archived in the eLibrary of WIT Press, the publishing arm of WIT, where they are permanently and easily available to the international community. Professor Brebbia also referred to the interest of WIT in developing strong links with other research institutions.  WIT participates in numerous international projects and programmes, collaborating with other institutions in PhD training for instance, as well as a variety of research topics.  The contribution of WIT is in the field of computational modelling, an area in which the Institute is well known around the world as a developer of a series of innovative techniques.

Professor Brebbia ended his welcoming address by thanking all the participants for their contribution and in particular the members of the International Scientific Advisory Committee who helped select the papers published in the conference book, hence ensuring the quality of the meeting.

 Keynote Address

friar2.JPGProfessor Brebbia then introduced the keynote speaker, Mr Nick Starling, Director of General Insurance and Health of the Association of British Insurers, who spoke about the UK Insurers approach to Flood Risk.

Nick explained the magnitude of the problem and the risks involved in the UK, stressing the need for information and understanding of risk.  Informed consumers and informal government organisations will achieve workable future policies.  He referred to the work the Insurance industry carries out with the UK Government to cover flood insurance in cases where considerable risk exists.

The presentation was followed by a lively discussion as the participants were most interested in the UK approach to Flood Risk and how the different parties work together.

 Conference Topics

The Conference programme consisted of a series of papers grouped under the following topics:
  • Flood risk analysis and vulnerability assessment
  • Flood risk management
  • Flood defence methods
  • Rehabilitation and restoration
  • Urban flood management – innovation in building resilience
  • Coping strategies
  • Financial and insuring issues

 Invited Presentations


The Conference sessions were enhanced by a series of invited presentations:
  • “Development and evaluation of FLEMOps – a new flood loss estimation model for the private sector”, by AH Thieken, Innsbruch University, Austria
  • “Flood insurance in the UK – a survey of the experience of floodplain residents” by JE Lamond, University of Wolverhampton, UK
  • “Assessment of extreme discharges of the Vltava River in Prague” by M Holicky, Technical University of Prague
  • “From hazard reduction to integrated risk management: toward adaptive flood prevention in Europe”, by F Vinet, University of Montpelier III, France
  • “Adapting to climate change: using urban renewal in managing long-term flood risk” by C Zevenbergen, Delft Institute of Technology, Netherlands
  • “Risk analysis and vulnerability assessment in flood protection and river basin management” by S Mambretti, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • “Restoration projects and mitigation of post-flood hazards – a case study on the Maruyama River in Japan” by M Takezawa, Nihon University, Japan

 Benefits of Attending

Of particular interest were two special sessions, organised as follows:
  • “Urban flood management – innovation in building resilience” organised by Prof C Zevenbergen of the Delft Institute of Technology, Netherlands.
  • “Flood Risk analysis and vulnerability assessment” organised by Prof D. De Wrachien from University of Milano; Prof A Sole from the University of Basilicata; and Prof S Mambretti from the Politecnico di Milano
The Special Session organised by Prof C Zevenbergen on Urban Flood Management presented some interesting solutions for buildings resilient to flooding, describing the effects of extreme events and climate change.  The session stressed the need to properly coordinate the international cooperation and develop more flexible approaches to flood management.  This is part of the research work done for an EU COST project involving partners in Germany, UK, Netherlands and France.

Another important special session on Flood Risk Analysis and Vulnerability Assessment was the one organised by the Group led by Professor Daniele De Wrachien from the University of Milano.  The papers dealt with a wide variety of risk analysis and vulnerability problems, and included specific applications for several regions in Italy.  An important part of the session dealt with the definition of topography and the type of hydraulic models most appropriate for flood analysis.

 International Scientific Committee

friar3.JPGThe International Scientific Advisory Committee met over dinner to discuss the progress of the Conference and propose ways to improve the meeting in 2010 when it is to be reconvened.  Different topics were proposed as well as several names nominated for the Committee.  There was general agreement that the 2010 meeting should be held in another European location, trying to attract an even more international audience.

The Conference was closed by Professors Brebbia and Proverbs who referred to the importance of the meeting and the excellent discussions that took place throughout the conference.

 Publication of Papers

The proceedings of Flood Recovery, Innovation and Response, 368 pp (ISBN: 1-84564-132-0) are available in hard back from WIT Press priced at £121/US$242/€181.50. Orders can be placed by telephone: +44 (0) 238 029 3223, fax: +44 (0) 238 029 2853, e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via the WIT Press web site at:

Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary as volume 118 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment (ISSN: 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at: