In recent decades, the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region has experienced strong economic and population growth. By 2050 120 million people are expected to live in the region, which currently has eleven major cities, and the emerging mega-city formed by Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. The populous coastal cities and low lying flood plains in the PRD experience flood risk via: (i) intense precipitation from storms, (ii) inland pluvial flooding, (iii) storm surges. Climate change, including global sea level rise forecasts of more than 1 m by 2100, mean that flood risk is expected to increase in future. Sustainable flood risk management (SFRM) must be adopted to mitigate these risks. Strategies such as the UK's ‘making space for water’ programme seek to tackle flood risk through planning, but such a strategic approach is not evident in the PRD. Recent coastal land reclamation projects in the PRD illustrate the conflict between urban growth pressure and flood risk, and that more comprehensive, or sustainable, flood risk management is not currently practiced. This paper examines flood risk management practice in the PRD. It starts with a theoretical sustainable flood risk appraisal (SFRA) template developed from literature and global best practice, against which PRD practice is benchmarked. The paper discusses a case study in Hong Kong and Shenzhen where in-depth discussions with more than 30 stakeholders were held to understand barriers and constraints to realising SFRM. This research seeks to further the practice of SFRM in the PRD, and comparable urbanising mega-deltas in the region.

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