Phoebe King

Phoebe King


While studying for my BSc in Geography at Newcastle University, I developed an interest in natural hazards and how society will manage them within an increasingly warming world. These curiosities drew me to study an MSc in Climate Change and Environmental Policy at the University of Leeds where I became fascinated by the application of nature-based solutions to address complex climatic challenges. This became the focus of my dissertation research, exploring the role of ‘social learning networks’ in supporting a paradigm shift for nature-based flood risk management in the UK.

From my results, it became clear that this paradigm shift requires a breakdown of pre-existing mentalities, from ‘working against water’ to ‘working with water’, thus challenging our perceptions of risk. This has inspired me to further my findings through a PhD to understand how the public’s attitude to change plays a critical role in the effective delivery of nature-based solutions.

Following my graduation, I worked as a research assistant with the Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme at the University of Leeds. I  have worked on projects which aim to translate existing environmental science to address complex catchment challenges in Yorkshire, including flooding, drought and environmental pollution. This experience has taught me the importance of generating tangible and practical solutions from research, something I will keep in mind throughout my PhD at the University of East Anglia and beyond.

Phoebe King

PhD title: Public preferences for a nature-based solution paradigm shift: flood risk management in the UK

Nature-based solutions (NBS) which work with and enhance nature to address societal challenges are building traction in research and policy circles globally. The focus of my research project is natural flood management (NFM), an established type of NBS. NFM represents a different approach from working against water (e.g. installing flood defence walls) to working with water (e.g. restoring floodplains). The wide uptake of NFM would lead to visual changes in our landscape and potentially challenge public attitudes towards risk. Therefore, I aim to scope and quantify the views and attitudes of the general public to the wider implementation of NFM in the UK.

Methods used in this project combine understandings from natural science, spatial science (GIS), risk analysis, advanced econometric methods, and environmental economics. This interdisciplinary approach will allow me to capture the economics of NFM and public perceptions of risk and preferences for these measures within UK river catchments. Project outputs will support Agri-environment and Water industries to deliver NFM with minimal public opposition, help shape environmental policy, and ensure societal values are kept at the core of risk management decision-making.


  • • Awarded funding from the Royal Geographical Society (£1500) and the Gilchrist Educational Trust (£1000) to conduct BSc dissertation fieldwork.


  • • Met Office Climate Data Challenge conference – 2021
  • • CIWEM Climate Change Adaptation Reporting – 2021
  • • ICASP ‘Working together to improve resilience across the Yorkshire and Humber region’ – 2021 annual conference

Other information

2020 – 2021: Online tutor delivering lessons to first year environmental science graduates