Embedding Adaptiveness into Water & Oceans Law in order to Prevent, Reduce and Manage Environmental and Climate Risks

Towards a New Policy for Climate Adaptive Water Management in Flanders: The Concept of Signal Areas



In Flanders, the Government has recently established an innovative policy framework to preserve the water storage capacity in flood-prone areas. In this context, the concept of ‘Signal Areas’ (signaalgebieden) has been created. These areas are still undeveloped areas with a hard planning destination (residential and industrial areas) located in flood-prone areas. The framework outlines in what way one needs to deal with the flood risk in these areas. The intention is to work with tailor-made solutions for each separate area. For this purpose, a comprehensive tool-box is available, such as land reparcelling, spatial destination or zoning swapping (bestemmingsruil), regulations regarding appropriate construction methods and land use in urban planning regulations or in public utility servitudes, and the application of a sharpened Water Test. The final objective is to create an efficacious, area-oriented adaptation strategy for climate-proof spatial planning. In this contribution, the author will provide an insight into the legal design of the above-mentioned concepts and instruments, how they can contribute to a stronger linkage between water management and spatial planning and therefore to a solid climate change adaptation strategy, as well as the factors of success and failure of this new policy framework.


water storage policyflood-prone areasthe concept of Signal Areasspatial planninginstruments
  • Page/Article: 107-125
  • DOI: 10.18352/ulr.272
  • Published on 8 May 2014
  • Peer Reviewed