Legal and Institutional Aspects of Integrated Flood Management

Brief description
Advocacy paper on the Legal and Institutional Aspects of IFM
Rapid Legal Assessment Tool
Case studies
Expert group

Brief description

APFM in its endeavour to assist countries in the implementation of the Concept of Integrated Flood Management is collaborating with the International Water Law Research Institute (IWLRI) at the University of Dundee, Scotland and a wider group of legal experts from various regions of the world to identify the legal and institutional aspects and requirements for the implementation of IFM.

As part of this collaboration an advocacy paper for policy makers, lawyers and flood managers has been published. A comprehensive range of legal and institutional aspects of flood management are discussed in the paper and examples from national practice are highlighted. A more detailed presentation of national legal and institutional approaches to flood management is provided in a series of case studies.

The "Rapid Legal Assessment Tool" has been developed as a methodology that allows a team of experts to assess a country's existing legal framework's compatibility with the principles of Integrated Flood Management and guide the initiation of appropriate reform processes.

Advocacy paper on the Legal and Institutional Aspects of IFM

IWLRI and APFM have prepared the advocacy paper on Legal and Institutional Aspects of Integrated Flood Management . The draft of this paper has been presented and discussed at a thematic session on Integrated Flood Risk Management at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in January 2005 in Kobe, Japan. After the conference the draft was open for comments on the APFM website. Based on received comments the publication has been finalized and printed and is being published during the 4th World Water Forum. As part of the "Flood Management Policy Series" this publication is also made available in French and Spanish.

The paper has been conceived to supplement the IFM Concept Paper in the legal and institutional realm. It provides an integrated perspective on flood management for lawyers, flood managers and policy makers. As such it represents a novel, i.e. multidisciplinary perspective on a subject which has in case been exclusively adressed in the realm of engineering sciences. One important aspect during the preparation process was the strive for a common language between the different professional groups that are adressed by the paper. 

The paper argues that for the implementation of an IFM approach, flood management needs to be adressed through a range of legal instruments, reaching accross sectors and administrative scales. It emphasized the need to mainstream flood management issues related to the phases before, during and after floods into a wide range of (sector specific) legal arrangements. A mong others, issues related to spatial planning and land use, building regulation, environmental conservation and pollution control, stakeholder participation, forecasting and warning, and civil defence will need to be adressed and reflected in the distribution of rights, powers and responsibilities.

Download: Legal and Institutional Aspects of Integrated Flood Management (PDF)
                                               English (1.7MB), French (2.6MB), Spanish(0.8MB), Japanese(1.0MB; translated by JICE)



Rapid Legal Assessment Tool

The Rapid Legal Assessment Tool (RLAT) has been conceived to strengthen the guidance aspect of the above advocacy paper and is provided therein as the final chapter. This guidance may be particularly useful for countries which take up Integrated Flood Management into their overall development policies and wish to reflect this in their legal and institutional arrangements. The RLAT has been conceived to be applied by a group of experts in law, flood management and possibly natural resources economics, to assess the compatibility of the existing legal and institutional arrangements with the principles of IFM. The ultimate aim in using the RLAT would be to identify the areas where reform to the legal and institutional system would be required and to create a basis for a substantiated consultation among decision makers and stakeholders about possible reform steps. The RLAT provides a methodology in four steps:

  • Contextual Background, seeks to analyse the flood issues that affect the country in question, along with the broader legal and political environment.
  • Data Gathering, provides a method by which to identify all the relevant existing laws within a country relating to flood management. Various national and international legal instruments, having implications on flood management issues, form the source of the basic data.
  • Gap Analysis, seeks to compare the existing laws with the concept of Integrated Flood Management, and to identify gaps between what is required and what is available on ground.
  • The fourth component seeks to identify Opportunities, Limitations and Constraints on the implementation process in order to guide a reform process.


Case Studies

Four case studies from India, Japan, Serbia and Switzerland provide the legal and institutional arrangements related to flood management and their merrits and demerrits in the given national contexts. The resulting picture about the state of legal and institutional system in the covered countries, reveals a divers picture of possible legal arrangements, and the fact that there will be no blueprint to adress the issue of floods under sustainability considerations. There is a general perception that a shift from "flood control" to "flood management" is visible in the legal arrangement of some of the countries, while others have started to consider steps towards reflecting an integrated approach, not least through cooperative legal arrangements concerning flood management with co-basin states and adressing floods within the overall hazards that the country is facing. Another institutional aspect, which may be of interest to many countries, concerns the way flood management can be adressed in federal or strongly decentralized governance systems.


Legal and regulatory framework for flood management in India (PDF) 
by Prof. Kamta Prasad, Institute for Resource Management and Economic Development, Delhi

Legislative arrangements of the flood management in Japan (PDF)
by Prof. Kenji Sanbongi, Meikai University, Japan

Protection against detrimental effects from waters: Legal system of Serbia (PDF)
by Dr. Slavko Bogdanovic, Yugoslaw Association for Water Law, Novi Sad, Serbia

Legal and Institutional Aspects of Swiss Flood Management (PDF)
by Dr. Armin Petrascheck, Independent Consultant, Switzerland


Expert group

Integrated Flood Management is a multidisciplinary approach to flood disaster reduction. APFM has been actively encouraging and promoting close interaction between experts from various disciplines. It organised an expert group meeting on Legal Issues in Flood Management bringing up together the Flood Management experts and the legal experts in September 2004. Experts from WMO, IWLRI, Japan and Serbia attended the meeting, which provided an exceptional opportunity to the experts to understand various legal, hydrological and socio-economic aspects of flood management. The group addressed the needs of flood managers, planners and decision makers to understand the intricate legal aspects of flood management with a view to enable adoption of an interdisciplinary approach and drew an outline of the advocacy paper for the purpose.

Core members of the expert group:

  • Dr. Slavko Bogdanovic, Finconsult Yugolex, Serbia
  • Prof. Kenji Sanbongi, Meikai University, Japan
  • Mr. Andrew Allan, IWLRI, Scotland, UK
  • Dr. Alistair Rieu-Clarke, IWLRI, Scotland, UK



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