Catchment, streams and sewers: Strengthening flood resilience in Bonn

Subramanian, Saravanan / Katharina Höreth / Nathalie Sänger / Diego Jara / Lutz Becker
Mitarbeiter sonstige (2022)

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)


The City of Bonn has experienced flooding on several occasions in the past. However, in the last two decades, it has seen increased precipitation leading to floods. The City had initiated several flood management measures in response. Those measures played a significant role in minimizing the impact of the heavy rainfall seen in July 2021. With this report, the Bonn Water Network (BWN) documents the successful efforts of the City of Bonn administration and the catchment authorities in responding to the floods. The report is also part of BWN’s effort to strengthen cross-learning, co-produce knowledge and build a true partnership with the City of Bonn. The report documents the authorities’ adaptive response and the challenges encountered by both civil society and the respective authorities in taking resilient action. It draws on secondary documents and online resources, which are supplemented with interviews with city authorities and experts. The report was presented to the city authorities with a request for their feedback, which subsequently flowed into its finalisation.
The report highlights the steps taken by the authorities towards flood mitigation, flood preparedness and flood response. Those measures are described at three levels – catchment, streams and sewers – as looked at from a social, technical and legislative perspective. To gain an insight into how these initiatives converge, the report uses the example of flood risk management at the level of local streams. Given the various institutions involved in the City’s flood management activities, it identifies the challenges faced by three key actors in implementing flood management measures. The report concludes with an outlook that shows a way forward by highlighting the need to strengthen the hybrid infrastructure approach in order to secure a sustainable strategy. It identifies opportunities for use in strengthening risk management and mitigation in respect of pluvial flooding, promoting hybrid governance and utilizing both science-policy dialogue and digitalization in strengthening flood risk management in Bonn.

About the author


Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

Climate risk governance 

Banerjee, Aparajita

Environmental and Resource Sociology, Public Policy 

Dombrowsky, Ines


Hein, Jonas


Hornidge, Anna-Katharina

Development and Knowledge Sociology 

Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist 

Lehmann, Ina

Political Science 

Schoderer, Mirja

Environmental Research 

Schüpf, Dennis