Plenary sessions

Plenary Key Themes & Presentations

Red River Flood of the Century – 10 Years Later 
Tuesday 6 May 2008 11:00 
(Session Leaders: Michael Ryan, US Bureau of Reclamation and Co-Chair of the International Red River Board and Wayne Dybvig, Saskatchewan Water Authority and Co-Chair of the IRRB)      

The Red River of the North Flood of 1997 affected a large number of residents from both Canada and the United States who live within that particular basin.    Life disruption, economic damage, lengthy recovery process, physical and emotional trauma motivated a number of major initiatives to improve the level of preparedness in case of future floods. The Governments of Canada and the United States asked the International Joint Commission (IJC) to investigate the causes and effects of flooding in the Red River basin and to provide them with recommendations to improve the preparedness for future flooding in the basin. In 2001 the IJC submitted a report to the Governments of Canada and the Unites States and the governors of Minnesota and North Dakota and the Premier of Manitoba.  The session will discuss the recommendations that were made and the actions that have been taken. 

This session will focus on a review of the lessons learned from the flood, the recommendations made and what has been done in the succeeding period.  This session will provide insights into the challenges that remain.


  • Murray Clamen – International Joint Commission (IJC)
  • Daniel Luna – U.S. National Weather Service
  • Doug McNeil – Manitoba Floodway Authority
  • Judith DesHarnais – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Dale Frink – North Dakota State Water Commission
  • Kent Lokkesmoe – Minnesota Department of Natural Resources


  • Introduction - Overview Presentation (pps, 4.52MB)
  • Introduction - Living with the Red Presentation pps (10.23MB) | pdf (1.60MB)
  • Accomplishments - Flood Forecasting Presentation (pps,1.04MB)
  • Mitigation - Manitoba Presentation pps (14.73MB) | pdf (2.49MB)
  • Mitigation - US Federal Presentation pps (29.88MB) | pdf (2.79MB)
  • Mitigation - US State - NorthDakota Presentation pps (14.66MB) | pdf(1.30MB)
  • Mitigation - US State - Minnesota Presentation pps (14.38MB) | pdf (1.09MB)
  • Summary - Whats Next Presentation (pps, 1.48MB)


Hurricane Katrina - Perspectives on Risk and Reliability Session 
Wednesday 7 May 2008, 09:00 
(Session Leader:  Dr. Gerald E. Galloway, University of Maryland, "Flood Risk Management Implications of Katrina - The US National Perspective")

Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005, was one of the costliest natural disasters on record.  Coastal recovery will require an integrated approach to development and will take many years to accomplish.  Many questions must be answered along the way, such as: what constitutes an adequate level of protection; how can you concurrently serve the needs of flood risk reduction, ecosystem restoration; and navigation and which has priority? It also raises questions as to how and by whom will key decision be made, and who bears the ultimate responsibility.  This session will provide perspectives on the challenges of an integrated approach to long term restoration and use of the US Gulf Coast.


  • Dr. L. E. Link,  Director, Inter-agency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET).  "The Challenges in Risk Determination and Communication."
  • Mr. Jos Dijkman, Delft Hydraulics, "The Dutch Perspective on US Gulf Coast Protection?"
  • Mr. John Barry, Author, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, and member, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.  "Looking at Risk from the Inside"


  • Dutch Perspective Presentation pps (10.22MB) | pdf (2.12MB)
  • ISFD4 May'08 Presentation pps (9.24MB) | pdf (3.29MB)
  • Toronto Risk May '08 Presentation (pdf, 4.65MB)

Assessing the Flood Risk
Wednesday 7 May 2008, 13:30 
(Session Leader:  Mr. Pete Rabbon, National Flood Risk Management Program, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Davis, CA, Washington DC, USA)

Recent natural catastrophes, combined with the added threats posed by climate change, are causing the flood management community to reassess how the risk environment is being managed.  Key fundamental issues relate to:  1) are the existing policies and resulting infrastructures adequate within high-risk flood regions, 2) what innovative approaches are available to assess risk within the context of complex interactions that arise from extreme events, and 3) who bears the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the right measures are in place.  A group of international experts will explore these critical questions


  • Dr. Alberto de Sousa Costa, DMS Foundation, Canada
  • Mr. Katsuhito Miyake, ICHARM, PWRI, Japan
  • Dr. Paul Sayers, HR Wallingford, Ltd., United Kingdom



Strategy for Mainstreaming Flood Risk Reduction in Society
Thursday 8 May 2008, 16:00 
(Session Leader:  Dr. K. Takeuchi, International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management, Tsukuba, Japan)

Mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction is the urgent agenda of the world to adapt itself to higher risk environment due to increasing societal vulnerability and hydro-meteorological hazards by global warming. The reduction of CO2 emission was agreed in the G8 of Heiligendamm, Germany in June 2007 "to consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050". It is an important move but even if it is fully realized by the mid 21st century, the climate change will continue and the human being has to face the intensified hydro-meteorological extremes. Adaptation to the higher risk environment is an urgent agenda of the world and a strong political commitment is necessary to make flood risk reduction as the main stream of the nation. As the Hyogo Framework for Action declares, disaster risk reduction should be a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation. How can we realize this priority action and mainstream flood risk reduction in society? This is the theme of this IFI (International Flood Initiative) session. The speakers nominated by the main partners of IFI: UNESCO, WMO, ISDR, UNU and ICHARM will propose the concrete strategic actions from their experiences and insights on (1) how in climate adaptation, (2) how with donors, (3) how with science and technology, (4) what are the local examples and (5) what are the indicators to measure? The session will be followed by the IFI Technology Session to focus on the latest advancement of technology to support the commitment of nations.


  • Avinash Tyagi (WMO, Director of Division of Hydrology and Water Resources) Main-streaming climate variability and change in flood risk management
  • Sálvano Briceño (ISDR Executive Director) Integrating flood risk reduction in national policies for climate adaptation and the Hyogo Framework for Action
  • Andreas Schumann (UNESCO) Barriers to prevent science and technology achievements to put to practice
  • Erich Plate (UNU) Examples of mainstreaming flood preparedness in local communities
  • Kuniyoshi Takeuchi (ICHARM) Indicators and standards to monitor and promote the flood preparedness of society


  • Climate Change and Variability Presentation (pps, 6.09MB)
  • Barrirers to Prevent Sciences and Technology Achievements to put in Practice pps (7.68MB) | pdf (1.29MB)
  • Toronto Presentation pps (7.68MB) | pdf (700KB)
  • Strategy for mainstreaming flood risk reduction in society Presentation (pps, 1.50MB)

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