Future costs and benefits of river-flood protection

1 August 2017

A study by climate researcher Philip Ward (IVM-VU) and colleagues assesses the costs and benefits of river flood protection for all countries and states in the world. The study shows that investments in flood protection may be economically attractive for reducing risk in large parts of the world, but not everywhere.

Floods cause billions of dollars of damage each year and are expected to occur more and more frequently due to development trends and and climate change. The paper entitled “A global framework for future costs and benefits of river-flood protection in urban areas” was published in Nature Climate Change.


This study is the first to assess on a global scale whether the benefits of flood protection such as dikes outweigh the costs and making a comparison between different regions. The framework can be used to identify regions where river-flood protection investments should be prioritized, or where other risk-reducing strategies should be emphasized.

Publication details

Philip J. Ward, Brenden Jongman, Jeroen C. J. H. Aerts, Paul D. Bates, Wouter J. W. Botzen, Andres Diaz Loaiza, Stephane Hallegatte, Jarl M. Kind, Jaap Kwadijk, Paolo Scussolini and Hessel C. Winsemius: A global framework for future costs and benefitsof river-flood protection in urban areas (31 July 2017 in Nature Climate Change). Doi: 10.1038/nclimate3350

Dr Philip Ward is Deputy Head of the Department of Water and Climate Risk at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM-VU). He is an Assistant Professor, and leads his own research program on Global Water and Climate Risk. 

Radio interview

On account of the publication of the paper, Philip Ward was interviewed for the radio show 'Nieuws & Co' on NOS Radio 1 (in Dutch).  

Published by  IBED Water