EDITOR'S NOTE: This is 1 of 12 papers prepared by participants attending the workshop “Risk Assessment in European River Basins–State of the Art and Future Challenges” held in Liepzig, Germany on 12–14 November 2007. The meeting was organized within the framework of the European Commission's Coordination Action RISKBASE program. The objective of RISKBASE is to review and synthesize the outcome of European Commission FP4–FP6 projects, and other major initiatives, related to integrated risk assessment–based management of the water/sediment/soil environment at the river basin scale.
Flood risk assessment is an essential part of flood risk management, a concept that is becoming more and more popular in European flood policy and is part of the new European Union flood directive. This paper gives a brief introduction into the general concept and methods of flood risk assessment. Furthermore, 3 problems in the practical application of flood risk assessment, particularly on the river basin scale, are discussed: First, uncertainties in flood risk assessment; second, the inclusion of social and environmental flood risk factors; and third, the consideration of the spatial dimension of flood risk. In the 2nd part of the paper a multicriteria risk mapping approach is introduced that is intended to address these 3 problems.