9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN22 Sociology of Risk and Uncertainty

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Open Session III Building I, 2E4

Dealing with Climate Change Related Uncertainties: Shifts in Flood Protection Policies in the Tisza River Basin

Dealing with Climate Change Related Uncertainties: Shifts in Flood Protection Policies in the Tisza River Basin.

Climate change impacts are widely recognised but the level of uncertainties involved in predictions is still significant. According to climate models, weather extremes are likely to increase, and indeed the amount of weather related disasters and the scale of losses have increased substantially. However, a direct influence of climate change on the losses is not proven (Hoeppe et al., 2006; Kundzewicz 2005). It poses a challenge to adaptation policies. In the Hungarian Tisza River basin new records of water level were observed in the last decade. As a result of the devastating floods at the end of 1990s a large-scale flood protection and water management plan for the Tisza River was launched.

The conflicts and difficulties in the implementation resulted in alterations in the plan undermining the dominant position of the structural protection initially proposed. Non-structural options, proposed by a coalition of NGOs, academic institutions and local stakeholders were included in the plan.

In the paper we analyse modifications of the flood protection in the Tisza River Basin taking into account the uncertainties connected with the climate change. We explore how uncertainties affect development of floods risk policies. We employ the Thompson?s (2008) concept on forms of solidarities in the analysis of positions taken by stakeholders involved in the plan preparation and implementation. The concept proposes that the models of understanding the nature, selecting information, and disposition to action influence decision-making.

In order to collect data we carried out in-depth interviews with stakeholders and experts. We also organized a workshop focused on adaptation options to climate change where we gathered Hungarian and non-Hungarian flood experts.

The analysis shows that hierarchical and egalitarian actors were initially represented in the dispute over the plan, having two competing views on uncertainty reduction. Individualist, market oriented actors acted behind the scene. A budget shortage, which occurred during the course of the program implementation, helped to equalize the power of actors. However, finding a solution acceptable by all main actors is still difficult to reach.