Opportunities, Limitations and Constraints

Where, as a result of completing the gap analysis it is shown that there may be a need to reform the existing regulatory framework, certain wider policy considerations should be taken into account. These should be identified, where possible, so that they can be considered when reforms are designed. It has to be remembered that a one size fits all mindset does not work. Legislations are drawn based on a country’s particular circumstances. Model legislation that cannot be drafted in the context of local conditions should be avoided. However, it is useful to examine the work carried out at the international level, successful and unsuccessful case studies, relevant guidelines or key principles.

It is an irony and a truism that extreme flood events represent the largest political window of opportunity for changes to the legal and institutional framework for flood management. However, this will not automatically be to the betterment of the flood management system. It is a delicate balance which politicians need to maintain in their political response to a large flood event, reassuring the population and at the same time keeping in view a long-term perspective of sustainable development. As such, after an extreme flood event, with mounting public pressure for more protection from floods, it is tempting for political leaders to reassure the population by (re-)adopting a flood “control” policy, suggesting that massive public investment into flood defences (apparently more visible) could solve the problem alone, without addressing the whole array of flood management options, which are possibly less visible. It may therefore be advisable to be politically prepared for such an event in order to be able to use the political momentum and turn it into popular support for a balanced or integrated approach to flood management. In this sense, the application of this Rapid Legal Assessment Tool may be an aid in identifying legislative or institutional reform requirements before an extreme flood occurs.

It is important to create a system that is clear and unambiguous, flexible and at the same time robust for its effective implementation, compliance and enforcement. In practice, and for various reasons, it may not be immediately possible to implement the reforms identified as required in order to promote Integrated Flood Management. It could be that a State lacks the financial or institutional capacity to design and implement the necessary reforms within the flood management sphere. A variety of legal issues may arise as a result of the reform process that need to be anticipated and addressed in the legislative framework. As a reform proposal for Integrated Flood Management will necessarily affect several line ministries, cooperation among those ministries will be a critical success factor that may in any case not be easy to provide for. Legislative reform may be hindered due to poor governance arrangements within a country, including poor law enforcement services. In the case of transboundary basins, poor relationships with other basin States also deter the process of reform.

A successful legal framework is one that is adaptive and responds to changing conditions by providing a clear sense of direction. An ongoing process of developing detailed and legally binding management plans, within the context of such clear legislative guidelines, can provide the desired adaptive capacity.

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