How flood risks shape policies: flood exposure and risk perception in Swiss municipalities

Glaus, Anik; Mosimann, Markus; Röthlisberger, Veronika; Ingold, Karin (2020). How flood risks shape policies: flood exposure and risk perception in Swiss municipalities. Regional environmental change, 20(120), pp. 1-17. Springer 10.1007/s10113-020-01705-7

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Despite an increasing number of people exposed to flood risks in Europe, flood risk perception remains low and effective flood risk management policies are rarely implemented. It becomes increasingly important to understand how local governments can design effective flood risk management policies to address flood risks. In this article, we study whether high flood exposure and flood risk perception correlate with the demand for a specific design of flood risk management policies. We take the ideal case of Switzerland and analyze flood risk management portfolios in 18 flood-prone municipalities along the Aare River. We introduce a novel combination of risk analysis and public policy data: we analyze correlations between recorded flood exposure data and survey data on flood risk perception and policy preferences for selected flood risk management measures. Our results indicate that local governments with high flood risk perception tend to prefer non-structural measures, such as spatial planning and ecological river restoration, to infrastructure measures. In contrast, flood exposure is neither linked to flood risk perception nor to policy preferences. We conclude that flood risk perception is key: it can decisively affect local governments’ preferences to implement specific diversified policy portfolios including more preventive or integrated flood risk management measures. These findings imply that local governments in flood-prone areas should invest in raising their population’s awareness capacity of flood risks and keep it high during periods without flooding.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR) > MobiLab
03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Glaus, Anik, Mosimann, Markus (B), Röthlisberger, Veronika Eva, Ingold, Karin Mirjam


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History > 910 Geography & travel
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science








Jack Kessel Baker

Date Deposited:

30 Oct 2020 16:02

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:37

Publisher DOI:





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