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24th January 2022

Effective future communication of flood risk in Scotland

Report Front Page Photos: Courtesy of GCU staff

Effective future communication of flood risk in Scotland

This project investigated how to effectively communicate future flood risk and flood risk-related climate change in Scotland, including considering tools and methodologies that currenty exist, and how flood risk can be communicated more effectively to technical and non-technical audiences in future. It conducted a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) of literature alongside interviews and workshops with key stakeholders.

This study found that the Scottish public’s current awareness and understanding of flood risk is low, and that future flood risk communication approaches should be mindful of the different needs of different audiences within the diverse Scottish public. Further, communication messages that are very complex to understand, such as return periods (e.g. a 1 in 100-year flood'), should be avoided and new approaches developed for both technical and non-technical audiences. These should be developed with local communities to encourage collective action, enhance community resilience, and promote an empowering shared social identity of preparedness in place.

The project also found that communicating flood risk without providing additional supporting actions to prevent or mitigate that risk can increase maladaptive coping strategies, such as denial or wishful thinking. Therefore, the study concluded that effective future flood risk communication should include recommended actions that are affordable, achievable and appropriate to the socioeconomic and demographic status of diverse Scottish households.

A Smart Guide to Flood Risk Communication

Based on data reported in the Effective Future Communication of Flood Risk in Scotland report, the Glasgow Caledonian Univesity team created accessible tools for technical and non-technical audiences that contextualise the communication of flood risk management in Scotland. This supplementary information and diagrams aim to support Awareness Raising - Actions in SEPA and local authorities’ Flood Risk Management Plans/Local Plan by aiding the understanding of social and demographic contexts in which the flood risk awareness communication takes place. These diagrams also illustrate how, when and where these could be effectively used.