Water-related risk reduction in urban development plans

Recommendations for resilient planning practices from a Sicilian case study investigation


The goal to create hazard-resilient communities through sustainable land-use planning requires a fundamental change to the way in which planning is conceptualized and practiced. This implies a deep revision of the operationalizing policy and legislation at local levels and a clearer interpretation of the in-between domain of risk and emergency assessment and management.

This study deals with the complex relation existing between land use planning and disaster risk reduction and focuses on water-related risks. It aims to explore and define a set of proposals for increasing the effectiveness of actions taken by local administrations, at the stage of drafting and implementing local land use masterplans, so to enhance all aspects of disaster risk reduction in the planning practice.

In particular, novel contents for the local urban masterplans are investigated based on a case study located in eastern Sicily, Italy: considerations concern urban key criticalities analysed within the catchment of the Lavinaio-Platani, the latter acknowledged as the most dangerous stream in the considered area.

Although focused on a specific context, the outcomes of this research may be relevant for a wider range of urbanized environments, especially if prone to flooding risk, by providing targeted recommendations and cross-sectoral perspectives to profitably inform innovative masterplans.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Luca Barbarossa, University of Catania

Ph.D. in ‘Regional Planning and Management”, Luca is currently postdoc researcher at the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture of the University of Catania. His scientific interests include sustainable land use, urban resilience, and the interaction between land use and transports. He is currently involved in a research focusing on the development of innovative measures and tools for urban and landscape regeneration project both at the urban and regional scale, particularly aims to cope with the effects of hydrogeological and climate change related risks.

Viviana Pappalardo, University of Catania

Ph.D. in ‘Evaluation and Mitigation of Urban and Land Risks’ with a thesis on planning resilient urban areas against urban pluvial flooding, Viviana is currently postdoc researcher at the Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture of the University of Catania. Her scientific interests include the role of ecosystem services and green infrastructure in urban areas, strategic planning and spatial analyses using GIS. She is currently working on the topic of ‘adaptigation’ to climate change in Mediterranean contexts through novel planning and policy tools.

Paolo La Greca, University of Catania

Full professor of City and Regional Planning, at the Department Civil Engineering and Architecture of University of Catania. His main research interests include Urban Planning aimed at urban renewal and environmental remediation. He is President of the Italian Center of Urban Studies (Censu) and has been President of the Regional Section of the Italian Urbanism Association (INU), Technical Adviser of delegation for DG Foreign Affairs of EU Commission (Bruxelles) and expert in Development Co-operation of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Rome).


Alves, A., Gersonius, B., Kapelan, Z., Vojinovic, Z., & Sanchez, A. (2019). Assessing the Co-Benefits of green-blue-grey infrastructure for sustainable urban flood risk management. Journal of environmental management, 239, 244-254. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.03.036

Banholzer, S., Kossin, J., & Donner, S. (2014). The Impact of Climate Change on Natural Disasters. In Singh A., Zommers Z. (Eds.). Reducing Disaster: Early Warning Systems For Climate Change, Dordrecht, Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-8598-3_2

Barbarossa, L. (2017). Città e cambiamenti climatici. Il caso IBA Hamburg. In La Greca, P. & Tira, M. (Eds.). Pianificare per la sostenibilità energetica della città, 21, Maggioli Editore

Barbarossa, L., La Greca, P.; & La Rosa, D. (2018). Rischi urbani e territoriali. In Vinci I.; & La Greca, P. (Eds.). Rapporto sul Territorio 2018; Urbanistica Dossier n. 16, 41–45, Roma, Inu Edizioni

Barbarossa, L.; Pappalardo, V; & La Greca, P. (2021). Percorsi per la mitigazione dei rischi territoriali in Sicilia orientale. In AA.VV. Atti della XXIII Conferenza SIU. Downscaling, Rightsizing, Torino 17-18 giugno 2021, Planum Publisher (in press)

Barredo, J. I., & Engelen, G. (2010). Land use scenario modelling for flood risk mitigation. Sustainability, 2(5), 1327-1344. https://doi.org/10.3390/su2051327

Codemo, A., Favargiotti, S. & Albatici, R. (2020). Fostering the climate-energy transition with an integrated approach. Synergies and interrelations between adaptation and mitigation strategies. Tema. Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 14 (1), 5-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.6092/1970-9870/7157

Di Giovanni, G. (2016). Cities at risk: status of Italian planning system in reducing seismic and hydrological risks. Tema. Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 9 (1), 43-62. http://10.6092/1970-9870/3726

Fidelis, T.; & Rodriguez, C. (2019). The integration of land use and climate change risks in the Programmes of Measures of River Basin Plans – assessing the influence of the Water Framework Directive in Portugal. Environmental Science and Policy, 100, 158–171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2019.06.013

FRMP-PGRA-Piano di gestione del rischio di alluvioni del distretto idrografico della Sicilia. Retrieved from - http://pti.regione.sicilia.it/portal/page/portal/PIR_PORTALE/PIR_LaStrutturaRegionale/PIR_AssEnergia/PIR_Dipartimento dellacquaedeirifiuti/PIR_Areetematiche/PIR_Settoreacque/PIR_PianoGestioneDistrettoIdrograficoSicilia

Galderisi, A. (2020). Riduzione dei rischi e governo del territorio: Quali necessarie innovazioni?. In Galderisi, A., Di Venosa, M., Fera, G., Menoni, S. Geografie del rischio: Nuovi paradigmi per il governo del territorio. 12-28 Donzelli, Bologna.

Gill, J. C., & Malamud, B. D. (2017). Anthropogenic processes, natural hazards, and interactions in a multi-hazard framework. Earth-Science Reviews, 166, 246-269. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.01.002

Gimenez-Maranges, M., Pappalardo, V., La Rosa, D., Breuste, J., & Hof, A. (2020). The transition to adaptive storm-water management: Learning from existing experiences in Italy and Southern France. Sustainable Cities and Society, 55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2020.102061

Gori, A., Blessing, R., Juan, A., Brody, S., & Bedient, P. (2019). Characterizing urbanization impacts on floodplain through integrated land use, hydrologic, and hydraulic modeling. Journal of hydrology, 568, 82-95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2018.10.053

Hurlimann, A., Moosavi, S., & Browne, G. (2020). Urban planning policy must do more to integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation actions. Land Use Policy, 101, 105188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.105188

IPCC-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (2014). Climate Change 2014. Synthesis Report. IPCC Technical paper on Climate Change and Water, Switzerland.

King, D., Gurtner, Y., Firdaus, A., Harwood, S., & Cottrell, A. (2016). Land use planning for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-03-2015-0009

La Greca, P. (2017). La pianificazione urbanistica e la sfida energetica. In La Greca, P. & Tira, M. (Eds.). Pianificare per la sostenibilità energetica della città, 21, Maggioli Editore

MacAskill, K. (2019). Public interest and participation in planning and infrastructure decisions for disaster risk management. International journal of disaster risk reduction, 39, 101200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2019.101200

Menoni, S. (2020). Per un approccio territoriale ai piani di emergenza. In Francini, M., Palermo, A., & Viapiana, M. F. (Eds.). Il piano di emergenza nell'uso e nella gestione del territorio. FrancoAngeli.

Neuvel, J. M., & van den Brink, A. (2010). The consideration of emergency management issues in spatial planning practices. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 28(1), 37-53. https://doi.org/10.1068/c08130

O’Donnell, E. C., Lamond, J. E., & Thorne, C. R. (2017). Recognising barriers to implementation of Blue-Green Infrastructure: a Newcastle case study. Urban Water Journal, 14(9), 964-971. https://doi.org/10.1080/1573062X.2017.1279190

Orlando, D., Montesarchio, V., Mineo, C., Campisano, A., & Napolitano, F. (2014). Il rischio idraulico nei torrenti etnei: Il torrente Lavinaio- Platani. In AA.VV. Atti del XXXIV Convegno Nazionale IDRAULICA e COSTRUZIONI IDRAULICHE, 7-10 Settembre 2014, Bari, Politecnico, Zaccaria Editore

PAI-Dipartimento Regionale dell’Ambiente-Assessorato del Territorio e dell’Ambiente (2008). PAI– Piano Stralcio di Bacino per l’Assetto Idrogeologico, retrieved from - from www.sitr.regione.sicilia.it/pai/bacini.htm

Pappalardo V. (2017). Urban drainage modelling and runoff control: the potential of Sustainable urban Drainage Systems application in land-use planning process, Urbanistica Informazioni, 272 s.i, INU edizioni

Pappalardo, V., & La Rosa, D. (2020). Policies for sustainable drainage systems in urban contexts within performance-based planning approaches. Sustainable Cities and Society, 52, 101830. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2019.101830

Pilone, E., Mussini, P., Demichela, M., & Camuncoli, G. (2016). Municipal Emergency Plans in Italy: Requirements and drawbacks. Safety Science, 85, 163-170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2015.12.029.

Pirlone, F.; Spadaro, I.; & Candia, S. (2020). More Resilient Cities to Face Higher Risks. The Case of Genoa. Sustainability, 12, 4825. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12124825

Roy, F. & Ferland, Y. (2015). Land use planning for disaster risk management. Land Tenure Journal, 1, 71-102

Sargolini, M. (2020). Il ruolo dei piani di emergenza nelle politiche urbane. In Francini, M., Palermo, A., & Viapiana, M.F. Il piano di emergenza dell’uso e nella gestione del territorio, 17-35, Franco Angeli, Milano

Saunders W. & Kilvington M. (2016). Innovative land use planning for natural hazard risk reduction: A consequence-driven approach from New Zealand. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 18, 244- 255. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2016.07.002

Thorne, C. R., Lawson, E. C., Ozawa, C., Hamlin, S. L., & Smith, L. A. (2018). Overcoming uncertainty and barriers to adoption of Blue‐Green Infrastructure for urban flood risk management. Journal of Flood Risk Management, 11, S960-S972. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfr3.12218

UNDP-United Nations Development Programme (2010), Urban Risk Management, Factsheet. Retrieved from - www.undp.org

UNISDR-United Nations International Strategies for Distaster Reduction (2007), Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, Final Report. United Nations, Geneva 2007. Retrieved from - https://www.unisdr.org/files/1037_hyogoframeworkforactionenglish.pdf

UNISDR-United Nations International Strategies for Distaster Reduction (2015), Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Final Report. United Nations, Geneva 2015. Retrieved from - https://www.unisdr.org/files/43291_sendaiframeworkfordrren.pdf

UNDRR – UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (2020), The Human Cost of Disasters - An overview of the last 20 years 2000-2019, Report. Retrieve from - https://www.undrr.org/media/48008/download

Van Staveren, M. F. & van Tatenhove, J. P. (2016). Hydraulic engineering in the social-ecological delta: understanding the interplay between social, ecological, and technological systems in the Dutch delta by means of “delta trajectories.”. Ecology and Society, 21(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08168-210108

White I., (2010). Water and the City – Risk, resilience and planning for a sustainable future. The Natural and built environment series, Routledge, London and New York

Zhou, Q., Leng, G., Su, J., & Ren, Y. (2019). Comparison of urbanization and climate change impacts on urban flood volumes: Importance of urban planning and drainage adaptation. Science of the Total Environment, 658, 24-33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.12.184

How to Cite
BarbarossaL., PappalardoV., & La GrecaP. (2021). Water-related risk reduction in urban development plans. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 7-23. https://doi.org/10.6093/1970-9870/7680
The Emergency Plan for the use and management of the territory