WY FLIP under the global spotlight

Photo caption: Jonathan Moxon (2nd from left) at Roundtable event in Malaysia

It’s not every day you set off to Malaysia to talk about the work you do to reduce the risk of flooding in West Yorkshire and discover that global leaders are grappling with the exactly the same issues.

When Programme Manager Jonathan Moxon accepted the opportunity to share how partners within the West Yorkshire Flood Innovation Programme (WY FLIP) are working together to tackle this issue which is a growing concern and causes so much devastation, he didn’t fully realise just how relevant what they are doing would be internationally.

The Executive Manager, Flood Risk and Climate Resilience, at Leeds City Council, spent an amazing few days in Kuala Lumpur, at the roundtable event, hosted by the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur and the UK Science and Innovation Network, to produce a climate adaptation plan for urban areas in Malaysia.

He joined  Charlie Pilling, from the Met Office Flood Forecasting Centre, Andrew Eden from the Environment Agency, who manages the Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme and over 60 delegates including Government officers at a national, regional and local level and Non Government Organisations (NGOs), talk about work to improve flood and climate resilience in the region.

The roundtable event, launched with an opening address from both the British High Commissioner Ailsa Terry and David Nga Kor Ming, the Malaysian Minister for Housing and Local Government, was more like a conference. There were a huge range speakers such as Dr Joy Jacqueline Pereira, Co-Chair of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and representatives from NGCs.

“What was remarkable was the similarity of their interests and challenges that we all face.”

“It was a really excellent event,” said Jonathan, who took part in a couple of panel sessions and gave a presentation on WY FLIP. “Delegates from across the globe were really interested in our approach to governance, shared ownership and collaboration, innovative ways of working and use of different themes.

“I explained how we make decisions about which projects to support, who should be involved and how we join forces to put together bids for funding for the region. We share the same approach to Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP) which is to make sure research has relevant impact by linking academics with practitioners. We value their support with fact-finding, facilitation and co-ordination to make sure things happen in a timely manner.

“Delegates were really interested in our model which ensures proper participation and I got lots of feedback and questions.

“What was remarkable was the similarity of their interests and challenges that we all face. There was a real focus on surface water flooding and the lack of warning systems for it, the importance of Nature Based Solutions (NBS), the need to generate green finance and the impact of development and how this needs to be done in a sustainable manner.

“There were discussions around data and how we use geographic information system (GIS) to monitor and manage environmental issues, including landslips and hydrological impacts due to climate change and how rivers would react differently in the future. In fact these discussions were incredibly similar to those we have in our workshops with both an academic and practical.

“However, one noticeable difference was their use of NBS. Despite being a tropical equatorial country, they didn’t really focus on the use of the wider catchment in terms of nature base and land use. Even though they have large areas of tropical rainforest and farmland, they concentrated on urban areas so it was actually more like urban development (SUDS).

“Many of their challenges arose because national agencies, equivalent to the Environment Agency, were very clear that their only remit was managing river flooding. The responsibility for surface water flooding didn’t actually sit anywhere.

“Their equivalent of local authorities were local service providers, responsible for environmental management such as street cleaning and refuse collection but without any statutory role for planning or flood risk management. This led to much discussion about how they could have a different function. There were also some very significant differences politically in the role of their state compared to national and local agencies.

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to take part in the event and spread our learning from WY FLIP, working on major flood schemes in Leeds and sustainable development amongst such a wide range of flood and climate experts.

“It was fantastic learning opportunity for me. I feel really privileged to be able to come home and share this with others.”

Pictured below: Jonathan Moxon presenting about WY FLIP in Malaysia