I. The BRIC Project

What is the BRIC Project?

Building Resilience in Communities (BRIC) is a two-year cross-channel project funded by Interreg until June 2023. The main aim of the eight project teams has been to build resilience in communities at risk of flooding.  
As a social innovation project, BRIC has been testing new tools and activities to interact with local people - from having meaningful conversations in the street using appreciative enquiry to installing new flood awareness technologies.  
The BRIC project is aligned with nine of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. These goals are a call to action for all, addressing various social needs while combating climate change and protecting the environment. 

Our mission

BRIC has created eight resilience networks and implementation programmes.  The project teams have used technological and social mechanisms to enable local people, businesses and organisations to work with flood management authorities to reduce the social and economic impacts of flooding. 


The BRIC project aims, through collaborative working, to help communities plan and know how to act quickly in the event of a flood, as well as how to recover well after a flood. Through training, awareness raising and community engagement, the project teams have encouraged the creation of new flood action groups and the development of local community resilience networks. 

Project outcomes

The main outcomes of the BRIC project are :

8 resilience networks

Creating eight resilience networks in pilot areas. If these focus on flooding first, they will be flexible enough to respond to other local issues that will benefit from social innovation.

8 new innovative services

Redesigning eight resilience services and establishing multi-governance agreements to transform flood risk management services thanks to the co-creation of the new BRIC resilience model.

Web platform

Creating a web platform to leave a lasting legacy to help communities and other networks to improve their resilience. This platform will host training courses, tips and guidance, case studies, innovation and  technology tool reviews, and project reports.

Resilience toolkit for best practices

Bringing together the science behind resilience, social innovation theory and appreciative inquiry, BRIC’s resilience toolkit will be a new model for social innovation, introducing best practices and new ways of thinking.

Target audience

The BRIC project is targeted at people who are vulnerable, elderly and out of the labour market since these populations rarely benefit from specific campaigns and are less involved in risk prevention and management in their daily lives. The BRIC project experimented with various tools and activities to reach this target audience and improve their resilience. 

II. The partners

The BRIC partnership brings together eight French and English partners. The collaboration provides expertise in different areas linked to flood risk management, climate change, new technologies and innovative methods of engagement.

Plymouth City Council (PCC)

Plymouth City Council (PCC) is the local statutory authority for planning and risk management. As the lead local flood authority, it oversees the city’s flood risk management strategy.

PCC’s primary responsibilities include managing green spaces, emergency planning and public health, which are all relevant to flood risk management. As a community leader, PCC undertakes a wide range of projects aimed at innovating public services, such as water (flood) resilient cities and Green Minds (green space management), financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Through its public health department, PCC has launched an appreciative inquiry and has extended it to other services, such as green space management.

Ogoxe - Environmental Solutions

Ogoxe is a French SME offering a range of products designed to forecast, inform and alert in case of flood danger. The solutions created are highly resilient, intelligent and autonomous. Its strengths in IoT (internet of things), AI (artificial intelligence) and innovative telecommunications technologies enable its solutions to use real-time data and transmit continuous alerts, even during power outages and 3G/4G failures. 

Ogoxe’s expertise includes designing and developing applications with an approach centred on communities exposed to flood risks (OgoxeApp) to limit the impact of a flood event on the population and their property. The application, together with the use of connected objects, data recovery and their dissemination, make it possible to apply preventive measures to help better manage risks. For the BRIC project, Ogoxe used its expertise to create the BRIC Resilience web platform, a key element for the BRIC legacy plan. It also supports the development of data management and visualization tools, integrating pilot site activities into the BRIC web platform via the individual BRIC network sites managed by the BRIC partners.


Cerema is a French public agency. It helps the French government define national methodological recommendations for planning, mobility, risk prevention, etc. It also supports devolved public services and regional authorities in implementing their policies. It supports local authorities in developing their local flood management strategies and implementing risk prevention measures. Cerema uses and develops hydrological and hydraulic models to respond to hazards. It also develops cartography tools relevant to understanding flood risk issues and vulnerabilities. Finally, invested in the subject of risk culture, it develops methodological documents to help communities carry out strategies and projects to engage populations.

National Flood Forum

The National Flood Forum (NFF) is a British charity founded in Bewdley, Worcestershire, in 2002 to support people at risk of flooding. It has years of experience working with these communities and has developed methodologies and tools to help them. As an independent charity, the NFF takes time to listen to the challenges that individuals and communities face. Their priority is to enable people to control their flooding problems and help them recover after a flood. They do this by supporting and listening to the communities so they feel prepared.  They also represent them at both a local and national level.

The NFF supports the creation of local flood action groups, whose role is to engage with authorities that manage flood risk. They aim to raise awareness of local concerns and issues about being better prepared for floods and to provide them with local expertise. They support a growing network of local groups and represent them when dealing with the government and its agencies.


Thames21 connects people to their local waterways by putting healthy rivers back at the heart of daily life within the Thames Basin (and tributaries). They improve and restore rivers, educate and empower communities, and campaign for positive change for the well-being of people and the environment.

With their vast experience of working hand in hand with local communities, Thames21’s community modelling projects empower these communities to protect their local rivers. Working with specialist modelling software usually used by experts, they help local populations increase their awareness of pollution and flooding issues and invite them to shape future river plans. Through these projects, volunteers are finding out how nature-based solutions such as wetlands and SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems) can reduce pollution and flooding risk, as well as how to influence local planning decisions.

CPIE Canche and Authie valleys

CPIE (Permanent Centre for Environmental Initiatives) supports sustainable development and the protection of the area’s natural resources by offering training and education about the environment and sustainable development. It also helps local stakeholders implement projects, particularly those related to public policy.

CPIE wants to develop and strengthen its territorial partnerships concerning flooding, gain new skills and, over time, be able to roll out new activities for the Authie Valley population. In particular, CPIE wants to see what role it could play in supporting training and activities in local resilience networks.

Dorset Coast Forum

Dorset Coast Forum (DCF) is a partnership of local organisations and community representatives with a core professional team hosted by Dorset Council. Its role is to engage all stakeholders in a dialogue about the environmental management issues facing the Dorset coast.

DCF has 25 years of experience working with local communities to arm them with knowledge and support them on coastal and marine issues. It organises and facilitates meetings, consultations and events to open a dialogue with local communities and develop bottom-up approaches for finding solutions to their problems. It has experienced project managers and carries out projects with an environmental, social or economic benefit to the Dorset coast and the surrounding sea.

Oise-les-Vallées urban planning agency

The Oise-les-Vallées urban planning agency is aware of the issues regarding local flood risks.  It has been engaged for several years in different approaches to flooding, involving the government and communities. Its cross-functional view of the territory’s planning issues enables it to play a key role in advising and mediating to ensure planning policies factor in risks more effectively.

Its involvement in the BRIC project will enable it to share its expertise regarding the risks involved and use this to work on the social element as a lever to meet the needs of the residents, particularly vulnerable populations.

III. The Pilot Sites

The eight pilot sites, four in England and four in France, have been trying out different activities and tools. 


The city of Plymouth has a population of about 260,000 and the highest unemployment rate in the UK’s South West region.  The Plymouth BRIC team is working with two communities in the City: Lipson Vale / Trefusis Park and St Levan, which are similar in many respects.

They both:

  • were historically tidal creeks, which were filled in and developed as Plymouth grew
  • are heavily urbanised with steep-sided streets that drain to low-lying areas
  • have a Victorian combined sewerage system, carrying both wastewater and surface water, which is subject to tidal locking and often works at full capacity
  • frequently suffer from surface water flooding, which impacts the road network and creates flood risk to homes, businesses and schools

St Levan Park often becomes a lake, as seen in the picture below! Residents have also reported that raw sewage can be found in the park after heavy rainfall, which is dangerous and unpleasant.

Flooding in Lipson Vale © Plymouth City Council
Flooding in Lipson Vale © Plymouth City Council
Flooding in St Levan © Plymouth City Council
Flooding in St Levan © Plymouth City Council

Main actions on the pilot site

  • Organising flood awareness events and activities to enable individuals and communities to build flood resilience to flooding
  • Forming new flood action groups and encouraging local volunteers to become flood wardens, and providing training to support those individuals
  • Providing a weather monitoring station in Lipson Vale to provide flood alerts to the flood action group and PCC’s highways and emergency response teams, plus a live data link to the local school to support learning about flood risk and climate change
  • Creating a place story map with each community, detailing its flood and social history, plus stories of local heroes and resilience champions
  • Working with risk management agencies on capital programmes to provide Sustainable Drainage Systems in the parks to ‘slow the flow’ of water and reduce the risk of surface water flooding

For more information, please visit https://plymouth.bric-network.com/

Canvey Island

Canvey Island is located on the South East coast of Essex in the Thames estuary. The island was originally a salt marsh before being reclaimed by sea waters in the 7th century. It covers an area of 7.12 square miles (18.44 km2) and has a population of 40,000 (around 16,000 homes). In the first half of the 20th century, it was the fastest-growing sea resort in the UK but was devastated by floods in 1953. The area is mainly urbanised and includes some wards ranked among the most deprived areas in England in terms of academic achievement, income and health.

The BRIC project chose Canvey Island as one of its eight pilot areas because it is highly vulnerable to sea and surface water flooding. The island is protected from tidal surges by its sea wall. The Canvey Island southern shoreline revetment project, beginning in March 2023, will maintain the current high level of tidal flood risk protection. Canvey Island has suffered from extensive surface water flooding in recent years.

Thames21 has been working to create a new resilience network, facilitating the integration of community-led action with various stakeholders (Anglian Water, Castle Point Borough Council, Essex County Council and the Environment Agency). Arrangements to deliver new services, training, and community mapping will empower neighbourhoods to take action to protect themselves, become flood resilience ambassadors in their community and work with authorities on solutions.

Main actions on the pilot site

  • Creating a local flood resilience network
  • Co-creating a flood resilience action plan
  • Creating accredited training courses
  • Delivering practical engagement events to build
  • understanding within the community
  • Working with communities to map flood issues and
  • potential solutions
  • Creating the Canvey Island flood resilience story map
Community interaction on Canvey Island © Thames21
Community interaction on Canvey Island © Thames21

For more information, please visit https://canvey-island.bric-network.com/


Weymouth has a population of around 53,000 and is a traditional seaside resort heavily dependent on tourism and seasonal employment. The city has a long history of flooding: some of the worst flood events occurred in the 1950s and 1960s; the most recent flooding occurred in 2014 during repeated coastal storms. In Weymouth, there are four main areas of flood risk:

  • tidal flooding via Weymouth Harbour
  • river flooding via the Wey River
  • surface water flooding due to precipitation (exacerbated by tidal blockages)
  • wave overtopping of the seafront

With climate change’s impact on rising sea levels and an increase in the number and intensity of storms, the risk of flooding in Weymouth will increase significantly. Sea levels in Weymouth are predicted to rise another 1.3m in the next 100 years. The existing harbour walls are already too low to protect Weymouth from significant flooding and current sea levels.

Weymouth includes areas among the 10% most deprived in England, with high levels of low-income people, multioccupancy households, transient populations (people who stay for short periods) and people living with a disability or long-term illness. This deprivation can influence how the Weymouth community responds to flooding in terms of awareness, preparedness, and adaptation.

Weymouth seafront © Weymouth Town Council
Weymouth seafront © Weymouth Town Council

Main actions on the pilot site

Weymouth has many existing and long-established support networks and a strong sense of community. The project team has worked alongside what is already in place to respond to the community’s wishes and needs by:

  • engaging communities in flood risk and flood resilience using a joint approach, linking local communities, experts and policymakers
  • raising awareness by working with community networks to develop flood champions trained in safety measures and incident reporting
  • using new approaches, such as a public information totem, providing up-to-date community information on flooding
  • working with partners to develop an interactive web platform to provide local data and information as well as tips, best practices and educational materials to support city-wide flood risk management

For more information, please visit https://weymouth.bric-network.com/


Kent has a population of approximately 1.6 million people. It has a highly varied landscape and a long coastline, which results in very diverse communities. Some coastal towns have high levels of deprivation, and many areas are experiencing increased flooding, which is expected to worsen due to rising sea levels and climate change. The coastal areas of Kent are at significant risk of flooding, as well as the floodplains of the Rivers Medway, Stour and Darent. There are approximately 64,000 properties estimated to be at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea. Also, 24,000 properties, especially in urban areas, are estimated to be at risk of flooding from surface runoff, one of the highest risks of any Lead Local Flood Authority in England. Ordinary watercourses are also a significant source of flood risk in Kent.

Main actions on the pilot site

  • Building upon the flood action groups created by the National Flood Forum to pilot climate change adaptation approaches
  • Setting up flood action groups and flood awareness events in deprived coastal areas using innovative methodologies
  • Creating a resilience network from existing flood action groups to provide a platform for flooded communities to exchange knowledge and experience with flood risk management authorities (RMAs)
  • Running a citizen-led interactive mapping pilot to gather local flood risk evidence to help reduce flood risk and adapt to climate change
Folkestone in flood, 1997 © National Flood Forum
Folkestone in flood, 1997 © National Flood Forum

Main Outputs

  • Establishing and building upon relationships with communities and RMAs
  • Setting up and ensuring the sustainability of flood action groups in coastal areas
  • Building a Community Resilience Network
  • Using community-led maps to add to the existing local risk maps and flood action plans used by the community to improve decision making
  • Contributing, sharing, and learning with the project partners to develop new and better approaches for community-led approaches to flood risk management

For more information, please visit https://kent.bric-network.com/

Aulne Valley

The Aulne Valley in Brittany is an incised valley with numerous twists and turns. The downstream section of the Aulne is canalised and forms the west part of the Nantes-to-Brest canal. The Aulne is a strong feature in the landscape and environment and gives the territory its identity. The valley’s communes are often flooded and were particularly severely affected in 1995 and 2000. The lower part of the valley has a flood risk prevention plan. The river basin also has a flood prevention action plan in place.

Cerema hopes the Interreg-BRIC project will bring a positive and united vision to the Aulne valley. This approach seems more effective than just sending out communications about flooding. It examines the presence of water, its uses, the relationship communities have with the river and their perception of water-associated risks. The overall aim of the project here is to organise an event that brings everyone together and raises awareness: an Aulne festival. This festival unites the territory’s stakeholders, who are suggesting different activities (exhibitions, art walks, entertainment, food, etc.). The event follows a series of preparatory activities carried out in 2021 and 2022.

Main actions on the pilot site 

Cerema is developing a range of activities to bring the Aulne valley together:

  • surveys to understand how local people connect with the Aulne
  • artistic workshops to offer a different perspective of the river
  • discussion workshops on the role the Aulne plays in local projects
  • festive events to get people together and raise awareness of flooding

With different final deliverables:

  • an audio report on the valley in transition (by La Traverse)
  • a collaborative map showing the Aulne floods
  • a journey in pictures entitled “Explore the waters of the Aulne” (by La Folie Kilomètre)
  • a blog (story map) on the Aulne valley, its history, its unique features and its prospects
  • an exhibition on floods of the past
  • “Along the Aulne” festival, open to everybody, which took place on 24 and 25 September 2022
Aulne Valley © Cerema
Aulne Valley © Cerema

For more information, please visit https://vallee-aulne.bric-network.com/

Oise Valleys

Formed by the main river and floodplains, the Oise valleys cross the territory from the northeast and west and meet the Seine basin downstream of Paris at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. These valleys have been urbanised over the centuries and nowadays are notorious for their flood risk. Whether it is rivers bursting their banks, rainwater runoff or rising waters, these risks often occur and are likely to increase with climate change, resulting in more damage to humans and properties.

Awareness of flood risk in the Oise valleys has greatly increased in recent years regarding hazards and the issues at stake. Likewise, the vulnerability of buildings, infrastructure and operating platforms is increasingly beingconsidered. However, local stakeholders still do not fully understand the weaknesses linked to people’s vulnerability and the direct and indirect consequences that come from these.

Aerial view of the Oise valley at Jaux and Compiègne ©Oise-les-Vallées
Aerial view of the Oise valley at Jaux and Compiègne ©Oise-les-Vallées
Overflow of the Aisne at Choisy au Bac on 15 March 2020 ©Oiseles-Vallées
Overflow of the Aisne at Choisy au Bac on 15 March 2020 ©Oiseles-Vallées

Through its participation in the INTERREG BRIC project, Oise-les-Vallées has undertaken several pieces of work to consolidate its knowledge:

  1. 1. Drawing up an overview of the territory, showing vulnerable populations and an understanding of the aggravating factors 
  2. 2. Working together with BRIC partners and local stakeholders to establish a strategy aimed at reducing the vulnerability of the communities identified through outreach and cultural integration
  3. 3. Organising a series of working groups, outreach workshops and meetings with experts and residents
  4. 4. Calling on the expertise of Ogoxe to test the flood risk awareness measures

For more information, please visit https://vallee-oise.bric-network.com/

Authie Valley

A strong symbol of local identity, the Authie is a coastal river that marks the border between the Pas-de-Calais and Somme territories. It runs parallel to the river Canche and the lower bed of the river Somme. The valley is about 100 km long but not very wide. The river’s source lies at an altitude of 100 m at Coigneux and it flows into the English Channel at the Baie d’Authie. In the upper valley, between the source and the commune of Outrebois, the bottom of the Authie is narrow, the riverbed is well-marked, and the gradients are relatively steep. The middle valley, which flows towards Dompierre sur Authie, widens at the bottom. Until Falaise Morte near CollineBeaumont, the lower valley crosses important marshland, where the plateaux are low. Upon approaching the Baie d’Authie, the gradients reduce and eventually disappear so that the low area is almost at sea level.

In the Authie valley, like everywhere else, floods are becoming more and more frequent and severe. With the flash floods in 2001 and the summer of 2016, which caused the death of a motorist, and more recently, the mudslides of 2021, the Authie valley is particularly vulnerable to floods due to the territory’s topography and geology. There are different types of floods: flooding caused by runoff, marine submersion, rising groundwater and overflowing rivers. The morphology of the Authie territory makes it more prone to flooding from runoff.

Main actions on the pilot site

Through its involvement with the Interreg BRIC project, CPIE Canche and Authie Valleys wants to educate the valley’s inhabitants about the flood risks, particularly the risk of runoff. Because of this, several initiatives have been carried out in partnership with Cerema:

  •  surveys to understand how local people connect to the Authie and their perception of flooding
  • outreach workshops with the territory’s inhabitants • organising a resilience festival
  • podcasts made with the valley’s inhabitants
  • an online story map presenting the history of the territory and its vulnerability to flooding
  • installing connected measuring and warning devices 
Flooding in Occoches, 2016 © CPIE Authie and Canche Valleys
Flooding in Occoches, 2016 © CPIE Authie and Canche Valleys

For more information, please visit https://vallee-authie.bric-network.com/

Risle Valley

At 150 km long, the Risle’s source lies in the Orne territory and it flows into the Seine upstream of Honfleur. It is a wide valley measuring 2500 km2 with a flat bottom, mostly comprising bocage grasslands (mixed forests and pastures). Its environmental riches are recognised through numerous inventories and protected zones (Marais Vernier, for example). The town of Pont-Audemer, mid-way between Caen and Rouen, is nicknamed the “little Venice” of Normandy because of the town’s canals. The river is also linked to industry, such as the now-abandoned COSTIL tannery. The valley is frequently affected by floods, the worst of which were in 1995, 1999 and 2001. These are primarily slow winter floods linked to prolonged rainfall over the whole river basin, sometimes associated with high tides, which slow the water flow.

At 150 km long, the Risle’s source lies in the Orne territory and it flows into the Seine upstream of Honfleur. It is a wide valley measuring 2500 km2 with a flat bottom, mostly comprising bocage grasslands (mixed forests and pastures). Its environmental riches are recognised through numerous inventories and protected zones (Marais Vernier, for example). The town of Pont-Audemer, mid-way between Caen and Rouen, is nicknamed the “little Venice” of Normandy because of the town’s canals. The river is also linked to industry, such as the now-abandoned COSTIL tannery. The valley is frequently affected by floods, the worst of which were in 1995, 1999 and 2001. These are primarily slow winter floods linked to prolonged rainfall over the whole river basin, sometimes associated with high tides, which slow the water flow.

The Risle and Pont-Audemer © Cerema
The Risle and Pont-Audemer © Cerema
The Annick boat at Berville-sur-Mer © Cerema
The Annick boat at Berville-sur-Mer © Cerema

Main actions on the pilot site 

In this area, Cerema wants to develop a risk culture by fostering the presence of water. On the one hand, they will rely on existing stakeholder networks to find new ways of addressing the subject of floods. They will also look to test crisis management awareness and preparedness tools:

  • “flood” safety plans showing the instructions to follow should homes be flooded, like fire safety plans
  • virtual reality tools
  • rapid flood modelling tools, detection of openings in buildings in case of flooding 
  • signs to raise awareness, created by staff from the “Être et Boulot” association
  • workshops with councillors and inhabitants looking at virtual reality modelling on Pont-Audemer and Mannevillesur- Risle
  • a story map that pinpoints the importance of the Risle (through historical, patrimonial and environmental features) and that emphasises the valley’s flood risks

For more information, please visit https://vallee-risle.bric-network.com/

IV. Key Terms

Social innovation

Social innovation is developing and implementing new solutions to systemic and complex social and environmental issues. These solutions are intended to be more effective, just and sustainable than existing solutions, which have failed to result in significant and long-term change. They are created by the active collaboration of government, business, and the nonprofit sectors and are continually evaluated to determine their success. These innovative techniques are intended to improve the welfare and well-being of individuals and communities, with the ultimate goal of having a long-term impact at a large scale, diffusing new practices into systems change. Social innovation can be achieved through direct forms of engagement, such as Appreciative Inquiry and community flood mapping events, and indirect forms of engagement, such as Storymaps.

Community mapping activity, Canvey Island © Thames21
Community mapping activity, Canvey Island © Thames21


Originally used to refer to materials’ resistance to shocks, the term resilience has increasingly been applied to social sciences. An individual, a community or even a territory can be considered resilient. In other words, they have the capacity and resources to organise themselves to respond to shocks. Resilience requires anticipating disruptions, an ability to mitigate and absorb their impact and the capacity to recover after events.

In terms of natural risk management, developing the resistance of a population and territory consists partly of emphasising risk prevention and reduction. How a territory is governed plays a key role here. It must involve as many stakeholders as possible. A territory’s resilience in the face of environmental events such as flooding can only be collective, systemic and based on that territory.

Community, population and territories

Communities are social groups of people who share characteristics, such as their location, or other demographics, such as age, race, religion or orientation. Communities may go through shared experiences together, such as flood events. Communities may also participate in joint actions or activities and share common interests.

Populations are the total number of people who live in a location. The population may comprise several different communities and demographics facing various issues. Territories are the areas of land in which people live, governed by different governments or councils.

Therefore, territories may implement differing flood risk management policies and strategies.


The Collins English Dictionary defines “engagement” as: “The act of engaging. A promise, obligation or other condition that binds. An appointment or arrangement. A period of employment, especially a limited period.”

Regarding the BRIC project, this term applies to community engagement. In other words, the involvement of relevant populations in the fight against flooding. This social innovation approach aims to strengthen the capacity of engaged local members (through training and workshops) to help make the most vulnerable populations more resilient. The involved members can play several roles, including mediating between local people and the competent authorities, educating communities and monitoring activities on a local scale.

Flood action groups

Flood action groups comprise dedicated individuals who usually flood themselves and who commit their time and energy to forwarding their community to a situation where the flood risk is reduced, and they are more aware and prepared. Flood action groups are a representative voice for their community and aim to work in partnership with risk management agencies and authorities. The formation of community-based flood action groups to work on behalf of the whole community to find ways to reduce flood risk has proved very effective in England and Wales.

Flood wardens

Flood wardens are volunteers who act as the eyes and ears of the community. Flood wardens can undertake roles such as :

  • assisting with the creation and maintenance of Community Flood Plans
  • monitoring the condition of local drains, brooks and other watercourses and reporting any issues to the appropriate agency
  • distributing flood-related information to the public, encouraging individuals to sign up for the government’s free flood warning service
  • calling for assistance on behalf of people who are struggling to carry out essential actions to safeguard themselves or their property
  • liaising with risk management authorities on local conditions and needs
  • noting and reporting local flood event details 
  • setting up local patrols to monitor the situation

Resilience networks

The purpose of resilience networks is to enable communities and public authorities to work together to reduce the socioeconomic impact of floods on these communities, making them more self-sufficient and resilient in the face of risks. The aim is to ensure a long-lasting collaboration that guarantees that the actions undertaken are sustainable.