The shifting position of homeowners in flood resilience: From recipients to key-stakeholders

Karin A.W. Snel, Patrick A. Witte, Thomas Hartmann, Stan C.M. Geertman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


The academic debate on flood risk governance is paying increased attention to the shifting position of homeowners. Homeowners are increasingly expected to adapt their homes to protect against possible floods. Although an overall agreement seems to exist on the involvement of homeowners in flood risk governance, the academic literature is dispersed in its argumentation on why homeowners should be involved. Therefore, this article provides a coherent overview of the transition from flood protection to flood risk management, and subsequently of the arguments that unfold regarding the shifting position of homeowners within this debate. This overview, based on a systematic review of the academic literature, helps to shed light on the changing role of homeowners in flood risk governance and contributes to categorizing the arguments used in current academic reasoning on homeowner involvement in flood risk governance. We use a conceptual distinction between macro-level and micro-level arguments, and between individual and collective efforts to structure our results. This conceptual overview illustrates the potential gap in convincing homeowners of the urgency to take action, because the connection between the macro-level arguments (i.e., climate change and responsibility) and the micro-level arguments (i.e., minimizing flood damage on privately owned properties) is generally not made. We, therefore, suggest that a stronger coherence in the argumentation would contribute to increase homeowner awareness of their changing responsibilities, which might bring about a future shift toward a new phase in flood risk governance, in which the responsibilities of homeowners are more explicitly acknowledged and integrated into climate adaptation strategies. This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Planning Water Human Water > Water Governance.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1451
JournalWiley interdisciplinary reviews : Water
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • flood protection
  • flood resilience
  • flood risk governance
  • flood risk management
  • homeowner involvement


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