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Understanding inter-municipal conflict and cooperation on flood risk policies for the metropolitan city of Milan

Corinne Vitale
Institute for Management Research (IMR), Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; c.vitale@fm.ru.nl

Sander Meijerink
Institute for Management Research (IMR), Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; s.meijerink@fm.ru.nl

ABSTRACT: Due to hydrological dependencies within catchment areas, the development and implementation of urban flood risk policies require cooperation between upstream and downstream municipalities. Such cooperation may be difficult to realise in practice due to the diverging interests of these municipalities, which might result in upstream-downstream conflicts. In this paper, we aim to gain a better understanding of inter-municipal conflict and cooperation on flood risk policies for the Seveso River Basin in the Metropolitan City of Milan. The Transboundary Waters Interaction NexuS (TWINS) model is used to describe the evolution of conflict and cooperation, and the shift towards the securitisation of flood risk management in the basin. The politicised Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework is used to gain a better understanding of decision-making on Seveso flood risk policies. It is concluded that the ever-increasing frequency, and damage caused by flood events, together with an institutional setting which is characterised by power asymmetry between the Metropolitan City of Milan and upstream municipalities, and a dominant engineering resilience discourse have resulted in the securitisation of the Seveso’s issues. The securitisation is characterised by a closed decision-making process, which may explain the resistance by actors not involved in decision-making and thus, the emergence of new conflicts.

KEYWORDS: Flood risk management, urban flood resilience, upstream-downstream relationships, nature-based solutions, institutional analysis, Transboundary Waters Interaction NexuS (TWINS), Milan, Italy