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In July 2021, several European countries including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands were severely affected by catastrophic floods, causing hundreds of deaths and widespread damage amidst a global pandemic. While these floods were certainly extreme, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently warned that such events will likely become more frequent in the future. The recent floods have revealed gaps in (i) our understanding of the multiple risks and impacts of such extreme events, (ii) the awareness and risk perception of the population, (iii) early warning, preparedness and emergency response, (iv) insurance and ways how insurance and finance instruments can support building back better, (v) adaptation and transformation needs and potentials, as well as (iv) cross-border and multi-level governance.
In recognition of the cross-border effects of climate change, the United Nations University (UNU) institutes in Bruges, Belgium (UNU-CRIS), Bonn, Germany (UNU-EHS), and Maastricht, Netherlands (UNU-MERIT) have hence joined forces to launch the ‘UNU Climate Resilience Initiative’ and its associated “Flood Knowledge Summit 2022”. Working with partners across the main flood-affected countries in Europe, as well as other flood-prone areas of the world, this initiative aims to establish a platform and community of practice for cross-border collaboration dialogue, and exchange to foster learning and promote a paradigm shift in the narrative and public discourse by moving from focusing on risks to innovation, adaptation and transformation.