Gymnasium Neubiberg

Finalist for the region South-West

The 4 A’s of mitigating flood damage – a website to raise awareness about flood damage for residents

The 2021 Flood in North Rhine-Westphalia was one more sign of climate change reaching even the centrally located Germany. In total the floods created about 7,000,000,000 € in damage to properties, public infrastructure, and residents. This scale of a flood usually only occurs once in a hundred years. With climate change becoming a bigger challenge for humanity every year, floods like these will also be something we will have to get used to.

This problem made us choose the topic of “Climate Change and Floods”, where we set out to seek a problem and find a solution. We found the insuring of houses to be a big problem, that now has led the state of Germany to compensate for the damages the 2021 NRW flood has caused, as they have clearly stated to only pay for the damages of this flood. This was caused by a large part of Germany’s population not being educated well enough about the topic and hence haven’t insured themselves to be capable of bearing the costs.

To raise more awareness, we have thought of four approaches (The 4 A’s):

Our idea consists of a website, which is able to inform the user about the current risk of flood at their address and what it will be in the years to come. Therefore, data is used from Germany’s weather service to evaluate certain factors such as rainfall in the last years, location and height above sea level, water drainage systems, as well as distance to large bodies of water or rivers. We also integrate info videos and further research about the topic, as well as an insurance comparison service. The innovative aspect of this website is the compact and easy-to-understand information that is coupled with the emotional connection with your place of living, your social surrounding, and the desire to protect it.

Their YES! topic

Climate Change and the flood – how can economic approaches support sustainable behavioral changes?

by Dr. Stephan Sommer and Delia Niehues (RWI)

The floods in Germany in July 2021 have shown again that also a country like Germany will be and is already affected by the changing climatic conditions. Science assumes that extreme weather conditions such as droughts and floods will increase in the future due to climate change. Several possibilities can be considered in order to be prepared for this scenario:
(1) Actively fight resp. slow down climate change (mitigation)
(2) Adapt to climate change and its consequences (adaptation)
(3) Combine both approaches
With regards to the first approach, instruments such as CO2 pricing schemes as already introduced in Germany can be used. An example for the second approach would be to build or strengthen dykes.
In order to reach the aim of a better adaptation to floods that occur more often and are more violent, it is necessary to take different measures. This means that e.g. the government has to create a legal framework and make sure it is respected when it comes to civil protection in general. But the individual behavior is important as well. Ideas from behavioral economics can be used here. These are rooted in psychology.
Current research shows for example, that information campaigns aiming for a better salience of private flood protection hardly influence individual behavior. On the other hand, we can show that individual experience with flooding increases the willingness to act dramatically.

To avoid that only personal experience leads to behavioral changes, we want to answer the following research question: How can behavioral economics be used to introduce behavioral changes in society to prevent future floods?

Stephan Sommer

Photo: RWI

Stephan Sommer is Professor of Economics at the University of Applied Sciences Bochum. Since Decelber 2013 he has been working as a researcher in the department „Environment and Resources“. He completed his studies in „Management and Economics“ (Bachelor) and „Economics“ (Master) at the Ruhr-University Bochum and the Colegio Universitario de Estudios Financieros in Madrid. He received his PhD from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in October 2018. His research interests include behavioral economics, applied econometrics and environmental, resource and energy economics.

Delia Niehues

Photo: RWI

Delia Niehues has been working as a researcher in the research group „Prosocial Behaviour“ in the competence area „Environment and Resources“ since April 2021. She studied economics at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (B. Sc.). Her Master’s degree in Economic Policy Consulting (M. Sc.) took her to the Ruhr University Bochum and the Università di Pisa. During her studies, she first worked as an intern and later as a student assistant in the competence area Environment and Resources, where she also wrote her Master’s thesis.